The Court of Arbitration for Sport has overturned UEFA’s decision to exclude Milan from the Europa League.
The Rossoneri were barred from this season’s competition for Financial Fair Play breaches, as well as doubts over then owner Yonghong Li.
The club appealed to CAS, and the change of ownership whereby Elliott Management took over from Li appears to have been decisive.
“The Court of Arbitration for Sport [Cas] has issued its decision in the arbitration procedure between AC Milan and the Union Européennede Football Association [UEFA] in relation to the appeal filed at CAS by AC Milan against the decision issued by the UEFA Club Financial Control Body dated June 19 2018,” a statement confirmed.
“The Adjudicatory Chamber of the UEFA CFCB determined that AC Milan had failed to fulfil the break-even requirement set out in Articles 58 to 63 of the applicable UEFA Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play Regulations and excluded AC Milan from participating in the next UEFA club competition for which it would otherwise qualify in the next 2 seasons [i.e. in 2018/19 or 2019/20].
“On 4 July 2018, AC Milan filed an appeal at the CAS seeking the annulment of the CFCB Adjudicatory Chamber Decision. The arbitration procedure was conducted by a CAS Panel composed of Prof. Dr. Ulrich Haas [Germany], President, Mr Pierre Muller [Switzerland ], and Mr Mark Hovell [UK] who held a hearing in the presence of the parties on 19 July 2018 at the CAS headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland.
“The CAS Panel in charge of the arbitration has partially upheld AC Milan’s appeal and has ruled as follows: the decision of the Adjudicatory Chamber of the UEFA CFCB rendered on 19 June 2018 establishing that AC Milan has failed to fulfil the break-even requirement is confirmed.
“The decision of the Adjudicatory Chamber of the UEFA CFCB rendered on 19 June 2018 to exclude AC Milan from participating in the next UEFA Club competition for which it would otherwise qualify in the next two seasons [i.e. the 2018/19 and 2019/20 seasons] is annulled.
“The case is referred back to the Adjudicatory Chamber of the UEFA CFCB to issue a proportionate disciplinary measure.
“The CAS Panel rejected AC Milan’s request to order UEFA to enter into a settlement agreement but acknowledged that the decision of the Adjudicatory Chamber of the UEFA CFCB to exclude AC Milan from the UEFA Club Competition was not proportionate.”
The change in ownership was a crucial factor behind the decision, as doubts over Li were largely behind UEFA’s decision to reject a settlement agreement.
“The Panel considered that some important elements have not been properly assessed by the Adjudicatory Chamber, or could not be properly assessed at the moment when the Appealed Decision was rendered [19 June 2018],and noted in particular that the current financial situation of the Club was now better, following the recent change in the Club’s ownership.
“The Panel decided to refer the case back to the Adjudicatory Chamber of the UEFA CFCB because the Club had requested that the case be referred back to UEFA and because it considers that the Adjudicatory Chamber is in a better position than the CAS Panel to issue a new proportionate disciplinary measure on the basis of the current financial situation of the Club.”
The Corriere della Sera reports that Elliott assured they won’t sell the club for three years, providing more stability than offered by Li.
The Rossoneri will now try to negotiate a settlement agreement with UEFA, though as that hasn’t been ordered by CAS it could, in theory, still be rejected.
Milan will now enter the Europa League as originally mandated by their league position, meaning Fiorentina won’t play in Europe next season.