RedBird Capital Partners are reportedly set to launch a €1bn takeover of Italian giants, AC Milan.
The New York-based private investment firm have continued their push into European football, following on from their £540M million investment into Liverpool owners, Fenway Sports Group a year ago to now setting their sights on another storied club.
According to Sky Sports, current owners, notorious American hedge fund, Elliott Management are looking to sell, and RedBird are rumored to have stolen a march on Bahrain-based Investcorp in the race to purchase the club following the expiration of an exclusivity clause that limited others from bidding.
American private investment has seized upon the European game as being ripe for “disruption” and rife with ”synergies”, deeming even the continent’s biggest clubs as undervalued assets with attractive features unique from US sports which don’t have such systems for generating revenue like player sales.
Even in that light, €1bn for such a European institution is essentially a steal. Although a club like Milan have not performed of recent compared to the heady Galactico squads of yesteryear, it is currently leading the race for the Scudetto. Furthermore, playing in an underpowered, but entertaining Serie A that seems to be moving towards a degree of competitive parity has the potential to make for lucrative TV rights in the near future.
Besides the famous history between the Rossoneri and Liverpool, the question could be asked about whether a shared investor might create conflicts of interest that could play out in the form of Champions League eligibility. However, RedBird are only minority shareholders in FSG, possessing an 11% stake. Additionally, recent UEFA jurisprudence in the case of RedBull-owned RB Leipzig and RB Salzburg would suggest that there is some wiggle room for rich people to collect football clubs like toys and crash them against each other to the sound of the Champions League theme music.
Middle Eastern-sportswashing projects, Russian oligarchs and American robber barons, it seems that more and more, the sport has evolved into little more than a game of geopolitical football.