A New Chapter Begins with Giorgio Furlani, Milan's New CEO

Milan announced three weeks ago that Giorgio Furlani would be taking the helm of the club after the departure of CEO Ivan Gazidis. However, that change did not actually occur until this week. Now that the Gazidis chapter is officially closed, Milan are moving forward with the lifelong Milan fan to guide the club. The former Elliott man and Milan board member since 2018 will take the reins and write the next chapter in Milan's rebirth.

Furlani was already central at EXPO 2020 in Dubai, along with Gazidis and Stylsvig

Furlani is a native of Milano, born in 1979, and has been a Milanista his entire life. That is exciting for fans, but must also be exciting for him as well. How many people get to be CEO of the club of their heart? According to Calcio e Finanza, he graduated from Bocconi University in Milano with his degree in Economics and Finance. From there, he attended Harvard University to obtain his Master's Degree in Business Administration. 

He began his career working as an analyst at the investment banking company, Lehman Brothers. He also worked for Silver Point Capital and Apollo Global Management before joining the Elliott Fund as a portfolio manager in London in 2010. Being native Italian, he was also a reference point for some important operations for Elliott involving Italian companies. 

Who knew that being a part of this train wreck deal would eventually lead to his dream job?

His career took a turn toward both his heart and home when Yonghong Li was purchasing the club, as Furlani was at the forefront of the operations to close that deal. He was thus obviously also involved in Elliott's takeover when Yonghong Li defaulted on his payments in 2018 as well. 

Furlani was named to the Milan board at that point in 2018 and has been on the board since, being reaffirmed when Gerry Cardinale and RedBird purchased the club this summer. He has also been involved in many of the day-to-day operations of the club, working alongside Gordon Singer, including on the stadium project. As Cardinale stated in the announcement, "Giorgio knows both the Club and the city intimately and has established the trust and confidence of the team at Casa Milan over the last four years." 

Cardinale has put his complete faith in him

In March, Furlani publicly spoke about Elliott's project with Milan, and how they have managed to stabilize the club since taking over, when it was near bankruptcy. By focusing first on the sporting success, and then building the economic and financial side of the club, they were able to create stability and growth. This plan worked perhaps even better than planned, as Milan won the Scudetto in May against all odds. 

Milan were able to break into the Top 20 football clubs in the world in terms of revenue this year for the first time in years, according to the Deloitte Money League. A recent YouGov poll placed them as the top football brand in the Italian market, as well. Even before the Scudetto win, Milan fans had so many reasons to be grateful, particularly after nearly ten years of decline, abuse, and neglect under Berlusconi and Yonghong Li.

Furlani has been Gazidis' understudy in some of the day-to-day functions of the club

Furlani has now left his job at Elliott to take on the CEO position at Milan, but I am not as certain that Elliott has entirely left Milan behind. Despite having sold the club to RedBird Capital this summer, a deal that closed in September, they left three Elliott employees on the Milan board: Gordon Singer, Giorgio Furlani, and Stefano Cocirio.

Gordon Singer is obviously Paul Singer's son, and was actively involved with the board while Elliott owned the club for nearly four years. Now Furlani is CEO, and according to recent reports, Cocirio is also leaving Elliott to become Milan's Chief Financial Officer. No official announcement has been made, nor is he listed yet on the club's management page, but that clearly needs to be updated anyway. It is very flattering, that Elliott loves Milan so much that they cannot say goodbye. On the other hand, it feels a bit like a controlling mother who cannot let go and moves to college with her child. 

Gordon and Paul Singer – in love with Milan? Or can't let go?

Furlani is a bit different, however. His story began with Milan, so the club is in the hands of a true Milanista. While he is human and may make mistakes, it is difficult to imagine him going behind someone like Maldini's back at all, let alone firing a Milan legend like Boban, for example. Why would he ever join the Super League or sell the club without telling the legend and Technical Director that is Maldini? I cannot fathom him blocking a player like Ibrahimović, or any of the other ridiculous things that Gazidis did to actually make Milan's return to glory more difficult. Just working alongside Maldini must be surreal. A true fan understands that and would not betray his trust.

While it is probably true that Furlani may have completely grey hair or no hair at all by the time a stadium is ever approved, let alone built, but that is not his fault, that is just Italy. Choosing a native of Milano as CEO is a very wisely calculated move by Cardinale, who is hyperfocused on the stadium project. He is ready to make it happen with or without the financially troubled Inter, who are rumored to be looking for investors or perhaps even a new owner themselves again. If anyone is able to get a stadium built, someone like Furlani should be able to get it done with Cardinale's backing.

Gazidis said a tearful goodbye at Milan's last home game of the year

Between his education, experience, and being a lifelong Milanista, Furlani seems like the perfect fit to merge the stories of Milan's past to its future. He is young, and along with a very young Milan board, owner, and management, they are looking to transform Milan into a truly modern club with many future successes. Perhaps he is a bit too young, and too inexperienced, or perhaps he is just an Elliott pawn to keep their control over the club. But after all of the tension Gazidis created with Maldini, I am personally ready for someone who seems to genuinely have the club's best interests at heart. Either way, a new chapter begins with Giorgio Furlani, Milan's new CEO.

This post inspired by the music of twenty one pilots' "Tear in My Heart"

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Thursday, December 8 • 14:30 CET (8:30am EST)
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A New Chapter Begins with Giorgio Furlani, Milan's New CEO A New Chapter Begins with Giorgio Furlani, Milan's New CEO Reviewed by Elaine on 12:30 AM Rating: 5
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