RedBird chairman Gerry Cardinale says he wants to win with Milan and replicate the success that the club had under Silvio Berlusconi. The Rossoneri were sold to RedBird in 2022 following their Scudetto success, and speaking with ‘Sette‘, the weekly magazine of Il Corriere della Sera, Cardinale explained why he was so keen to acquire the club and his plans for the future:
“I have always thought that Milan is one of the 4-5 top clubs in Europe. We are here thanks to what our predecessors did, Silvio Berlusconi, Gianni Rivera before him, Sacchi, Baresi, Maldini…
“I have enormous respect for Berlusconi, he was a great visionary, the results speak for him. Berlusconi took Milan to the top, then it was difficult to keep up because the world was changing, with a strong evolution in the use of content and technologies.”
“Football clubs are content creators and as such hold the intellectual property: it is a huge potential to unlock to realise their true value. I started over 20 years ago, when sport was considered a hobby for the rich. With George Steinbrenner of the New York Yankees we created the Yes Network from scratch, today the No.1 regional sports network in America. The thing I like about intellectual property is that it is resilient, it overcomes financial crises and pandemics, but it requires constant work. Today everyone has money, you have to have innovative ideas and a plan.”
“My first year in charge? I have maintained the organisation I inherited. Besides, I have great respect for Paolo Scaroni, who was chosen by Elliott, who did a great job and whom I thank: he is so consistent with the world I come from and at the same time so Milanese and authoritative. One of my best moves was to bring Giorgio Furlani (CEO) and Stefano Cocirio (CFO) to Milan, who left Elliott without controversy. It gave me the necessary time to evaluate what worked and what did not”.
“The reality is that RedBird ownership owns 100 per cent of Milan: it has put up €600 million in capital and controls 100 per cent of that capital. I felt that continuity with Elliott was a virtue and so I preferred a pure loan from them, without shares in the capital, for 550 million at a very attractive interest rate, which I will pay in three years. I could have raised a billion cash, I could have involved third party banks, I chose to do it with Elliott, because I have enormous respect for Paul and Gordon Singer. It was an intelligent way to buy Milan: certainty, speed, the possibility of ensuring continuity to start strong.
“I will do everything to have a winning club, but as partners in Serie A we must hope for equal commitment to reduce the gap with the Premier League. To achieve this we need to change. I believe I can contribute, I have 30 years of experience, I have worked with the best. The partners of companies in our portfolio are Apple, Amazon, Paramount, Disney, Espn, Fox, I have found innovative ways to maximise the value of the product. I am disappointed that Serie A did not take this into account. I have given my willingness to share my experiences, but no one seems to consider them relevant.”
‘New Stadium? The assumptions are encouraging. With the approval of the City of San Donato and the Region, which we thank, we have already held several very productive sessions. Our proposal is supported by an impressive volume of technical reports: it will be a state-of-the-art stadium, 10 minutes by metro from the Duomo, we will bring live events, world-famous artists will play there. A missed opportunity for Milan, to our great regret, because I have grown to have great esteem for Mayor Sala. I am disappointed above all because there were some minorities who were prejudicially against it, who also blocked the way for the project at La Maura. It would have been the greenest sports facility in the world, with 85 per cent dedicated to greenery and only 15 per cent concrete area.”