UEFA Will Reject A.C. Milan Plan for Turnaround

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A.C. Milan executives and the club’s new Chinese owner, Li Yonghong, center, have been working for weeks to justify their balance sheet to European soccer’s governing body, UEFA. Miguel Medina/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

LISBON — The storied Italian club A.C. Milan has failed to convince top soccer officials in Europe that it has a viable plan to cut losses and finance growth, European soccer’s governing body will rule on Friday.

The ruling could lead to severe penalties, both on and off the field, for Milan. It is the latest wound that Italian soccer’s most hallowed institutions have endured during an increasingly troubled period for one of the world’s top soccer nations.

Last month, Italy failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in 60 years. Now, in the worst-case scenario, one of its renowned clubs could face a ban from European competition next year if it qualifies, as well as limits on acquiring new players.

At issue is whether A.C. Milan has a credible business plan that can staunch millions of dollars in losses and meet rules, known as Financial Fair Play, that prohibit clubs from spending beyond their means so club soccer does not turn into a battle of wealthy owners’ bank accounts.

In recent months, A.C. Milan has tried to explain to UEFA how its new owner, Li Yonghong, plans to make the club viable again, and justify the finances of a club that spent a Serie A record $270 million on new players for this season. Li, a little-known Chinese businessman, bought the money-losing club from the former Italy prime minister Silvio Berlusconi this year.

Source: The New York Times