In a throwback to the golden days of football, before Financial Fair Play, AC Milan has announced that it had a €126m loss for last season under the ownership of Li Yonghong. That was €53m more than Milan lost in the previous year.
Revenue grew from €212m to €255m, but that included player trading. Even with the 20% increase in revenue, Milan still missed that is still less than €273m that the ownership group had projected.
Milan’s expenses kept pace with the growth in revenue, rising 22.7% of €354m, up from €273.9m.
It was not the bad financial results that upset UEFA’s FFP group. It was the pie-in-the-sky projections from former Milan CEO Marco Fassone.
Fassone’s projections were to so bad that UEFA denied Milan both a voluntary agreement and a settlement agreement on Financial Fair Play.
To reach the €273 in projected revenue, Fassone’s business plan had predicted €99m from broadcast rights – excluding UEFA – €23m from match day revenue, €61m from sponsorship and marketing and €90m from the Chinese market, later expanded to include the whole Asian market in the second plan presented to UEFA.
The plan was to reach €524m in the 2021-22 season, with 45% of that revenue coming from China. A huge number.
To get to €524m Milan would have had to grown its revenue by 21.7% a year. By comparison, Juventus – seen as the gold standard off the pitch for Serie A clubs – have grown by an average of 12 per cent between 2011 and 2016.
UEFA’s skepticism over Fassone’s business plan proved to be well founded though, with only €606,000 in revenue from China for 2017-18, rather than the projected €90m.
The first business plan presented to UEFA for a voluntary agreement was dismissed as unrealistic, but the governing body allowed Fassone and the board to submit a new one.
Calcio e Finanza states that the first plan projected €19m net income from China, and the second – which was also rejected – €8.8m.
In the final submission for a settlement agreement the figure had fallen to zero.