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Judgment Day



So the not-at-all-swift hammer of UEFA’s version of justice in Financial Fair Play (FFP) came down today, and came down hardest on Milan. After months of talking about “uncertainties” and warning Milan about the Elliott Fund debt, their ruling instead focused primarily on the “break-even” requirement of FFP. Their verdict was a two-year ban on European competition, with the second year apparently provisional based on meeting FFP requirements. So basically, a two-year ban. Amidst all of the rumors and uncertainties about a sale of the majority stake in the club, this decision absolutely feels like judgment day.

More randomly punitive than fair

Here is the actual ruling that they handed down today:

The Adjudicatory Chamber of the Club Financial Control Body (CFCB), chaired by José Narciso da Cunha Rodrigues, has taken a decision in the case of the club AC Milan that had been referred to it by the CFCB Chief Investigator for the breach of the UEFA Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play Regulations, in particular the break-even requirement.

The club is excluded from participating in the next UEFA club competition for which it would otherwise qualify in the next two (2) seasons (i.e. one competition in 2018/19 or 2019/20, subject to qualification).

This decision may be appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, in accordance with Article 34(2) of the Procedural rules governing the UEFA Club Financial Control Body, as well as Articles 62 and 63 of the UEFA Statutes.

The full reasoned decision will be published on UEFA.com in due course.

So their focus on the “break-even requirement” is the last three years of Berlusconi and Galliani. Which is what Milan were referred to UEFA for in the first place. Even though they said all along that it was the Elliott Fund debt and the “uncertainties” that made them deny us first a voluntary agreement, then a settlement agreement. But if it’s primarily the “break-even requirement” that we are being punished for, then why did they not give a similar judgment to Roma and Inter, who have had similar losses in recent years, but only given slap-on-the-wrist punishments?

The gifts that keep on giving

Why did UEFA drag our club’s reputation and the reputation of our owner through the mud based on “uncertainties” when all along, it was the years of financial transgressions of Berlusconi and Galliani that they were going to punish us for? They are long gone, and already have begun to cry innocent, leaving the reputation and financial certainties of the club to be sullied for things that happened in the past. Literally, this ownership and the new players all came into this situation after all of that happened, they have nothing to do with it, but are the ones being punished for it.

The two year sentence is reportedly provisional, based on Milan making FFP compliances for the second year. Exactly which compliances we are supposed to make I assume are forthcoming in their explanation. But it begs the question, how are Milan supposed to make FFP compliances within a year when this decision pulls us out of the competition we qualified for, likely impacting our current roster and possibly our mercato? How do we maintain our sponsors that we have, let alone gain new sponsors? There was an offer on the table to purchase a majority share of the club. Who would buy a club that has effectively just received a one year financial prison term with one year parole? This decision cripples all of our efforts to become compliant with FFP, yet the second year reportedly depends on us being compliant. How does that make any sense?

UEFA have done so much more to harm than to help the new ownership

Which brings me to the biggest question of all: If the purpose of FFP is to help clubs remain solvent and maintain healthy balance sheets, then how does this ruling help anyone? With the change of ownership and the potential change yet again, how does punishing the new ownerships for past indiscretions of the previous owners help Milan? The very purpose of the voluntary and settlement agreements was to help the new ownerships be aware and climb out of the financial pits dug before their time. But this is like UEFA pushing Milan down the well that Berlusconi & Galliani dug previously. How on earth can anyone dig out of the hole they just made deeper for us?

There will be an appeal from Milan, of course. And a potential change in ownership, if it happens quickly, could very well see us win that appeal. But with UEFA handing down this judgment that is not consistent with other previous judgments, it’s impossible to believe that even that is probable. The paperwork and formalities aside, UEFA have done more to damage Milan’s reputation than winning an appeal could ever compensate for. They have also set a new precedent of unfairness within FFP. But the most damning part of their actions is that with this judgment, they have gone from a governing body whose purpose it is to keep clubs financially healthy to an oppressive hierarchy which truly financially punishes clubs who are showing good faith. With this ruling, UEFA’s FFP committees have become all-powerful and all-punishing, while clubs like Milan are shown no mercy and cannot depend on any kind of consistency in punishment. It truly is judgment day.


This post inspired by the music of Rammstain’s “Bück Dich”