Milan (AFP) – A Chinese consortium that has made a mammoth down payment to buy seven-time European champions AC Milan has reiterated its “commitment” to completing the deal after missing yet another deadline on Friday.
Milan’s media tycoon owner Silvio Berlusconi agreed in August 2016 to sell the club to Sino-Europe Sports (SES) in a deal that values the Serie A giants at 740 million euros ($825.4 million).
SES has already made two separate instalments of 100m euros on two occasions, totalling 200m.
But doubts about the veracity of the deal, and whether it would go through at all, have emerged after the investors, led by mystery man Li Yonghong, failed to stump up the rest of the cash.
Reports early evening suggested Berlusconi, who bought AC Milan in 1986 and overseen the most successful period in its history, was even ready to scupper the deal.
A hastily-released statement by SES on Friday evening said: “While expressing its disappointment at the delay in completing the deal, due to circumstances outwith its control, SES confirms it is strongly committed to continue working with Fininvest to complete the deal as soon as possible, and that a detailed investment plan is ready.”
Fininvest is Berlusconi’s holding company, and early Friday morning it released a statement clearly calling for SES to get their house in order.
Confirming the sale had been postponed after failure to meet the March 3 deadline, Fininvest said it would look to have the takeover completed “as soon as possible”.
Fininvest “welcomes the opportunity to enter into an agreement with Sino-Sports Europe that will lead to the sale of Milan as soon as possible,” said a statement read out to shareholders by club CEO Adriano Galliani on Friday morning.
Earlier this week, sources told AFP the consortium had: “Asked to postpone the signing by a month. That should be possible with the payment of a new instalment of 100 million euros.”
Amid reports the consortium was encountering difficulties after the withdrawal of one of its investors, Galliani on Friday faced the wrath of club shareholders whose patience is wearing thin.
A report on the website of Gazzetta dello Sport said shareholders had complained Friday that “Fininvest has not been transparent”, while others were “shocked by the behaviour of Fininvest”.
Milan’s neighbours, Inter Milan, are already under Chinese ownership.