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Hostage Situation



Perhaps Yonghong Li thinks all club purchases take eleven months. Or maybe he does everything at the last minute. But once again, he’s got the hopes and dreams of all Milanisti wrapped around his finger. Only this time, he’s also got our mercato and the UEFA appeal tied up, too. Not too mention the majority shares of the club all of us love so much. Milan fans find ourselves once again in a hostage situation.

Once considered a hero by some, he is now the villain in our story

The troubles began when he did not make the €32m capital investment payment when it was due. So the Elliott Fund paid the €32m. However, Yonghong Li would have to pay back the short-term loan by July 6th or they would seize his assets to cover it. While it was already widely speculated that Yonghong Li was looking for a minority investor due to the much larger October deadline, the rumors quickly surged to speculate that he was actually going to sell the club, or at least a majority share. The media did well enough to create a parade of potential American investors. The most likely candidate was Rocco Commisso, a friend of Sal Galiatoto.

During the Bachelor-like search for economic stability, UEFA handed down their sentence. Having no Europa League this season was another blow not just to the image of the club, but to the fans, who hoped that playing in the Europa League would be the impetus for a better mercato. Milan vowed to appeal the decision in the Court of Arbitration for Sport, but that appeal process is also a relatively short-term affair. It is widely believed that a new majority owner with financial stability would impact Milan’s appeal very favorably.

From UEFA to the mercato, their hands are tied completely

With the clock ticking down on both the new Elliott Fund debt and the UEFA appeal, it seemed that Yonghong Li would relinquish his majority shares and sell the club. Rocco Commisso seemed to be closest to winning Yonghong Li’s heart, but after a week of constant negotiations, he failed to get a rose. The latest reports are that Yonghong Li wants to stay single, and has somehow managed to scrape together the €32m to pay off the Elliott Fund, keeping the club exactly as it is. This means the UEFA appeal would be unlikely to be overturned, and our mercato could finally begin, but there would undoubtedly be less money to fund it.

It is unclear why Yonghong Li refuses to play well with others. If you’ll recall, the initial phase of the 11 month process of buying the club included many investors, and was being facilitated by Sal Galiatoto. By the end of the deal, they were all gone, and he stood alone. While that is admirable on some level, everyone has come to grips with the fact that if he missed the €32m payment, there is no way he’ll be able to pay or refinance the €300m Elliott Fund debt by October on his own. Everyone sees that he needs to sell the majority of the club. Everyone, that is, except him.

Trapped again by their love for the club

Which is insane, because Commisso’s offer was the best he’s going to get, with the least amount of personal loss to Yonghong Li. And the timing was perfect, too, to save us from both the Elliott Fund’s short-term loan and boost our cause for the UEFA appeal. Despite the awkward fact that Commisso is a lifelong-Juventino, he was willing to personally step up to the plate (not using his company, Mediacom, to finance the deal.) He was also reportedly willing to immediately invest in the club this summer. He has the personal wealth, reputation, and interest in football to instantly give financial credibility to the club, not to mention bringing Milan’s reputation back to acceptable levels.

But Yonghong Li, similar to another recent Milan figure who lived by the mantra “I work alone,” prefers to keep the management, players, and fans hostage. Without any rhyme or reason, and certainly without any public statements, he repeatedly refuses to release his death grip on the club. There is something to be said for loyalty, but it is no longer loyalty when you are killing that thing which you are loyal too. So, as if the last six years haven’t been difficult enough, we as fans find ourselves trapped in a toxic relationship, our hearts once again in a hostage situation.


This post inspired by the music of The Cure’s “Lovesong”