The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has today (Friday) overturned AC Milan’s ban from the Uefa Europa League after stating the punishment imposed on the Italian Serie A football club for breaking financial fair play rules was disproportionate.
Milan last month said it would head to CAS after Uefa imposed the stiffest sanction so far on a team from one of Europe’s top five leagues for a breach of its financial fair play regulations. The Adjudicatory Chamber of the Club Financial Control Body (CFCB) at the European governing body decided to exclude Milan from participating in the next Uefa club competition for which it would otherwise qualify in the next two seasons.
This meant that Milan was ejected from the 2018-19 Europa League after the club qualified by finishing sixth in Serie A last season. A speedy ruling was needed from CAS with an Italian team due to compete in Europa League second qualifying round next week.
Milan’s legal victory returns the club to the group stage, which commences in September. Atalanta, which finished seventh in Serie A last season, heads back into the qualifying rounds and plays FK Sarajevo in a first-leg game in Bosnia-Herzegovina on Thursday.
CAS today partially upheld Milan’s appeal, overturning the Europa League ban and returning the case to the Adjudicatory Chamber of the CFCB to issue a “proportionate” disciplinary measure. CAS said: “The CAS Panel rejected AC Milan’s request to order Uefa to enter into a settlement agreement but acknowledged that the decision of the Adjudicatory Chamber of the Uefa CFCB to exclude AC Milan from the Uefa Club Competition was not proportionate.”
CAS upheld the CFCB’s verdict that Milan had failed to fulfil the break-even requirement, but noted that some important elements had not been properly assessed by the Adjudicatory Chamber, or could not be properly assessed at the time the ruling was issued.
The ruling came with Milan in the midst of significant upheaval from an ownership perspective and CAS noted in particular that the current financial situation of the club was now better, following the recent change in its ownership.
SportBusiness International reported last week that Italian entrepreneur Riccardo Silva is set to take a minority stake in AC Milan. Silva will become co-owner of the club with US hedge fund Elliott Management Corporation.
Elliott earlier took control of the club when Milan’s Chinese owner, Yonghong Li, failed to repay a €32m ($37.4m) loan to the fund which he had taken out to complete his acquisition of the team from former owner Silvio Berlusconi last year.
Elliott said that having assumed control it would seek to create financial stability and establish sound management; achieve long-term success for AC Milan by focusing on the fundamentals and ensuring that the club was well-capitalised; and run a sustainable operating model that respected Uefa’s Financial Fair Play regulations.
Elliott will immediately inject €50m of equity capital to stabilise the club’s finances and plans to inject further capital over time to continue to fund AC Milan’s transformation.
Riccardo Silva owns London-based Silva International Investments, whose portfolio includes majority shares in the US football club Miami FC and the SportBusiness Group and a minority stake in the MP & Silva sports marketing agency, controlled by Chinese firms Baofeng and Everbright.