There was a time, not too long ago, when the name “AC Milan” inspired awe. A time when the red and black stripes sent fear running down the oppositions’ spine. A time, when Milan players stepped on to the pitch, the crowd knew that they were about to witness something special. A time when Milan had the streak of champions about them. Now, a look towards the Seria A league table sees them languishing in 5th place and you do have to wonder. What went wrong for AC Milan? Could it be the departure of key players? Could it be the incompetent ownership? Whatever be the case, the fall of Milan from its former glory has been both slow and excruciatingly painful.
In the last 3 seasons, they’ve finished 8th, 10th, and 7th, which is even more painful when factoring in their recent history. Next season will mark their 10-year anniversary of winning the European Cup. 2011 was the last time that the Italian club won the league title. For a team that was once considered the greatest team in the country, and one of the greatest in the world, Milan have failed to qualify for the Champions League in the last 3 years.
Some blame the emergence of PSG as a football superpower. With key players such as Thiago Silva and Zlatan Ibrahimovic departing for Paris, Milan lost most of its bite and control over all competitions. Milan has struggled to make ends meet and win titles ever since.
Before Silvio Berlusconi in 1986, the team almost went bankrupt and Berlusconi rescued the club from oblivion and turned it into a European superpower and a huge media enterprise. In two decades, they won everything and cemented their name in history. But, all of that was when he actually spent money. Interestingly, whenever Berlusconi splashed big money in the transfer marker, there was an election coming up. Now that he is out of office, ousted from Italian parliament following a tax fraud conviction, it is no coincidence that the money is no longer there. Neither are the championship trophies and big wins. The management cited Financial Fair Play as the reason for them closing the cheque books and subsequently closing doors on the prospect of them rebuilding the club.
Perhaps if Milan’s management refuse to spend as it not only once did, but as a big club, today should- it should consider selling the team to new ownership. Milan was once saved by a rich politician back in ’86, perhaps it is time for another entity to step in and rescue Milan from the depths of obscurity and mediocrity.
It has a repeated occurrence that Berlusconi will attempt to bring in players in the shoddiest of ways and often from the discount rack. It is sometimes a free transfer, a fruitless loan or a swap deal. All the while, continuing to sell off their best players.
One of the major symbols of their downfall is the relatively empty San Siro. The Rossoneri, alone, aren’t enough to fill the 80,000 seats. Perhaps, the club now has to come to grips with the fact that their home is too big for them, and that San Siro only adds to the problem now.
So here’s how the list of priorities looks like for AC Milan:
- New Owner
- New, better players
- A New Stadium
Out of the three, a new stadium is reportedly already in the works. The city has already accepted a proposal, according to a recent report in La Gazzetta Dello Sport (h/t AFP, via Yahoo Sports), and next year, Milan could start building a 42,000-capacity arena next to their new headquarters in the Fiera region. It is reportedly following the blueprint of the Allianz in Munich and Juventus stadium in Torino, “where the proximity of fans to the pitch and special sound-enhancing panels help create an intimate and intense atmosphere,” writes AFP.
Daughter Barbara Berlusconi is the one responsible for the plans of the new stadium and hopes to usher in a new wave of resurgence for the club and somehow rebuild AC Milan and restore the glory lost. Milan now faces a dilemma of sorts where it has to decide whether being a club of history which used to win, or a club that is still winning.
What do you think is the solution to the problems Milan faces at the moment? Selling the Team, New Players or a New Stadium?