UEFA fines Milan $13M, threatens 1-year European ban

December 14, 2018

NYON, Switzerland (AP) — AC Milan was fined 12 million euros ($13.6 million) by UEFA on Friday and threatened with a one-season ban from European competition for breaking financial fair play rules.

UEFA said its club finance panel ruled the ban will be activated if Milan fails to break even on soccer-related business in June 2021. If Milan fails to comply, it will be banned for the next UEFA competition it qualifies for in either of the 2022-23 or 2023-24 seasons.

The decision was announced the day after Milan was eliminated from the Europa League in the group stage. The 12 million euros ($13.6 million) will be deducted from its prize money.

The fine is one of the biggest imposed by UEFA since financial fair play sanctions began in 2014. Then, Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain had 20 million euros ($22.6 million) withheld from their Champions League prize money.

UEFA originally banned Milan from the Europa League in June for violations of rules monitoring spending on player transfers and wages up to 2017. The club also spent heavily in an offseason spending spree that year.

Milan was reinstated within weeks by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which sent the case back to UEFA for a fairer punishment.

The court said an immediate ban had been too harsh given the club's new business plan after a takeover by U.S.-based hedge fund Elliott Management.

Elliott took control of Milan in June after former owner Li Yonghong missed a deadline to repay part of a loan worth more than 300 million euros ($350 million) from the hedge fund. Elliott repossessed the holding company in Luxembourg that Li used to buy Milan.

For 2017-18, Milan spent more than 200 million euros (then nearly $250 million) on new players. That was despite questions over the financial stability of the Chinese-led consortium that paid $800 million to buy the club from former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in April 2017.

Milan's finances could improve by playing in the Champions League for the first time since the 2013-14 season. The team is currently fourth in Serie A, which would qualify for next season's competition and prize money of at least $50 million.

However, a further UEFA punishment Friday was limiting Milan to 21 senior players — instead of 25 — in its squad for the next two seasons of Champions League or Europa League soccer.

Milan can appeal the punishments to CAS.