Less than two weeks after celebrating AC Milan’s league title win with thousands of fans, Gerry Cardinale is set to become the legendary Serie A club’s new owner.
Cardinale is the founder and managing partner of US investment firm RedBird Capital Partners, which has signed a preliminary deal to buy Milan for 1.2 billion euros ($1.3 billion).
Milan said on Wednesday that RedBird should complete the purchase of fellow American Elliott Management by September at the latest. The announcement comes 10 days after Cardinale was pictured joining the celebrations in the Piazza del Duomo, outside the city’s iconic cathedral, after the Rossoneri took down the scudetto.
“I had the opportunity to be a fan and I went to the square during the celebrations and nobody knew who I was,” Cardinale told reporters on Wednesday. “And I have to say I’ve been to a lot of Super Bowl championships, a lot of World Series championships, a lot of NBA Finals and championships, I’ve never seen what I saw on Sunday last.
“It touched me as a human being. It touched me as a fan, and I must say it reminded me of the responsibility we have to be good stewards of this incredible club.
It was Milan’s 19th Serie A title, but the first in 11 years. The seven-time European champion last won the Champions League in 2007.
Cardinale spent Wednesday morning talking to Milan officials and visiting the club’s museum.
“We spent a few hours touring the museum and I was really struck by the history that’s happening here,” he said. “You don’t have that kind of history in America, but there is a rich history here.
“And my job is to be a good steward of this incredible team.”
RedBird also has a stake in Fenway Sports Group, which owns English Premier League club Liverpool as well as the Boston Red Sox in the United States.
RedBird is set to become the Milan team’s fourth owner in five years.
American hedge company Elliott has owned Milan since 2018 after the club’s former Chinese owner defaulted on part of a loan. Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi controlled Milan for more than 30 years before selling it to the Chinese group in 2017.
“I think there’s tremendous virtue in continuity,” Cardinale said. “I think the Elliott team, the management team here, they’ve done a phenomenal job during their ownership, and I’d like to continue on that trajectory.
“It’s a winning culture. It’s a winning story. I hate losing. I want to win. Now the sport today is different from what I started 25 years ago. Today sport is big business, there is a lot of capital flowing into sport, our job is to be responsible stewards, not just stewards.
Milan had finished sixth a few months before Elliott took over. He was also embroiled in a case with UEFA over Financial Fair Play breaches which later saw him voluntarily withdraw from the 2019-20 Europa League to avoid penalties.
“When Elliott acquired AC Milan in 2018, we inherited a club with a great history, but with serious financial problems and poor sporting performance,” Elliott managing partner Gordon Singer said. “Our plan was simple: to create financial stability and restore AC Milan to its place in European football. Today, I believe we have achieved both.
“As we make this remarkable transition into the next chapter of AC Milan, I want to express our deepest sense of humility, pride and above all gratitude for the experiences we have shared with each member of the family of AC Milan.”
Elliott, who will retain a minority stake in the club, appeared set to sell Milan to a Bahrain-based private equity firm, but exclusive talks ended recently after a failed business deal with Investcorp.
This paved the way for RedBird’s entry.
“I would like to thank Gordon Singer and the entire Elliott team for the tremendous job they have done over the past four years to rebuild Milan and restore them to their rightful place at the top of Serie A,” Cardinale said. .
“RedBird’s investment philosophy and track record in team ownership has shown that football clubs can be successful on the pitch and sustainable off it.”