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Inter vs. AC Milan: The FFP Derby



The focus lately has been on AC Milan’s FFP punishment, a very harsh exclusion from European competition, reportedly primarily for “break-even” violations. But lesser known is that Inter have been sanctioned for FFP violations since 2015, and still have yet to meet their break-even requirements and thus will continue those sanctions again this year. Yet despite having consistently lost literally billions in recent decades, UEFA used kid gloves with Inter. Whereas Milan, who have been more consistently successful on and off the pitch up until the last few years of Berlusoni’s ownership, were thrown under the bus and run over with a very questionable ruling by UEFA.

UEFA treating FFP more like a choice between delusion and truth

Inter
If you know Inter’s financial history, you’ll know that they consistently posted losses of €150m or more every single year… even while they were winning (which of course was only very briefly, and because they took out all of their competition in a league wide scandal.) However, when UEFA stepped in to finally discipline them in 2015, they still had a deficit of at least €180m over the previous three years. UEFA’s policy only allowed for €45m in deficits over a three-year period. So not only not even close to the “break-even,” but rather at least €135m over the tolerance level.

However, with the change of majority ownership transferring from Thohir to Suning, UEFA offered them a settlement agreement. Here are the provisions of that agreement:
• a fine of up to €20m, €6m which was mandatory, and the other was conditional upon the compliance with the agreement.
• Inter must have only a maximum deficit of €30m by 2016, and no deficit (break-even) by 2017
• a limit on players registered for European competition – 21 for 2015/16 (they didn’t qualify for Europe,) and 22 for 2016/17 (they crashed out of the group stage of the Europa League.) The player limits were meant to be lifted if Inter complied with the settlement agreement.

Spend, spend, spend, reboot, spend, reboot, and fake your books... worked for Inter

So how have Inter done? In 2016, they posted a loss of €63m. Last I checked, that was more than double the €30m in their agreement. Last year, they posted a loss of €24 million, which would have met the goal they were supposed to make the previous year. But they were supposed to break even last year, and they didn’t. So they will be limited to 22 players for their Champions League squad this season, and there are further stipulations that require them to list a squad that is comparable in value to the last squad they submitted in European competition. But that’s it. Even though they failed to meet the goals under their settlement agreement, that’s all they have to worry about. They didn’t even qualify for Europe two of the four years that their agreement covers.

Not surprising that a team with a paper Scudetto would have questionable financial reports, il Sole 24 Ore examined their books and found some sketchy math. As in more of a deficit than they’ve been reporting. The financial paper went so far as to question how the team could even be admitted to Serie A. Which of course, Inter immediately tried to debunk, but without denying the validity of the information in the article. But is UEFA looking at that? No. Because Inter got a settlement agreement. It is estimated that during Moratti’s 18 year tenure as owner of the club, he personally invested over €1.5 billion of his own money in addition to the other billions in losses during that time. But hey, give that club a settlement agreement, right?

While Milan were being banned from Europe because of Silvio, he was enjoying over €90m personal profit

AC Milan
With the change of ownership last year, Milan submitted a voluntary FFP agreement to UEFA. Denied. Then a settlement agreement was submitted. Denied. Finally, UEFA’s disciplinary committee handed down the most harsh punishment of any big team under new ownership: a ban from Europe. Specifically for failing to meet the break-even requirements from the 2014-2017 seasons… you know, the Berlusconi era?

So in 2014, Milan posted a loss of €91m, the highest ever for the club. (Much less than the average of €150m per year Inter posted every year under their previous owner.) Meaning we had a habit of better finances, and obviously something was going very wrong. In 2015, it was €89m, and in 2016, it was €75m. This was all when Berlusconi refused to invest in the team, and was courting Mr. Bee and anyone who would take the club out from underneath him.

I get that these guys are new and they look like snake oil salesmen, but don't punish Milan for bad fashion choices

So now, UEFA is punishing the new ownership for literally the worst financial years of Milan’s history, despite new owners and management who have invested and done much to attempt to steer the club out of its free fall. If they are worried about the “uncertainties” and “credibility” of our owner, despite all of the money he has invested in the club this past year, debt aside, then why not give us a settlement agreement, comparable to what Inter, Roma, and so many other clubs who were in as bad or worse conditions financially, were given? Why did Inter, who regularly posted losses of over €150m for years, only get a slap on the wrist, while Milan is being held accountable for its three or four worst financial years in its history? Why don’t Inter face more sanctions for not reaching their compliance goals? Has UEFA checked their phones for wiretapping?

But most importantly, how does banning Milan from Europe help anyone? Milan in the Europa League gives it a credibility it otherwise lacks on a massive level and helps improve the image of the league. Milan in the Europa League helps us reach our personal goals of achieving FFP compliance sooner. If FFP is meant to keep clubs financially healthy and keep them from going bankrupt, then why is this club being punished at a time it is doing the most to clean up its finances in years?

UEFA's punishment of Milan sticks out like a sore thumb of FFP.

The most maddening was reading how Alessandro Antonello, CEO of Inter, spoke of Milan’s UEFA FFP punishment: “The rules are there and must be respected, we are doing everything to respect them because it is important that the system, with these rules, stands.” First of all, what do Inter know about respecting rules? Like ever? And secondly, when your club has gotten away with murder, or at least an incredibly light FFP settlement agreement, SHUT UP. When you still haven’t even complied with the terms of your agreement three years later, you might want to keep a low profile. Especially while UEFA just took all of the “fair” out of FFP. But I see Inter appointed the perfect CEO: dumb, entitled, and with no respect for anyone or anything. I wonder how good he is with the wiretapping?

This is a Derby where no one wins. There is no big press smear aimed at Inter, despite decades of horrific financial practices (not to mention horrific on the pitch performances.) They apparently can’t even balance their own books, but UEFA doesn’t even care about those allegations. And even though they have failed to meet the terms of their settlement agreement for three years straight, no new punishments. Meanwhile, across the tracks, AC Milan is pounded with an inexplicable punishment for crimes committed by previous ownership. Not only that, our club and its image has been dragged through the mud and made an “example” of by UEFA, for reasons no one is able to explain. It’s kind of like when your sweet, loving child becomes a teenager and is suddenly a raving ogre. Only UEFA have turned that ogre on to one of the biggest clubs in Europe, a club with seven UEFA Champions League trophies. UEFA are not only punishing Milan, they are shooting themselves in the foot, tarnishing their own image, and losing all credibility. All the while, Inter are skulking about with their paper Scudetto, their sketchy financial books, and a tiny slap on the wrist in their infinite serial financial crimes. Such glaring disparity in punishments between just two clubs in the same city. Apparently, in the UEFA FFP Derby, no one plays on level terms.


This post inspired by the music of Rage Against the Machine