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Chinese businessman and new owner of the AC Milan football club Yonghong Li (C) poses with Italian … [+] businessman Marco Fassone (R) and Rossoneri Sport Investment Lux representative David Han Li during a press conference to present the new board of the AC Milan football club on April 14, 2017 in Milan.
Serie A giants AC Milan were sold to Rossoneri Sport Investment Lux yesterday in a deal which sees the Chinese-led consortium take a 99.9% stake in the club. The seven-time European champions who are Italy’s most succcessful club in international competition, have been owned by former three-time Italy prime minister Silvio Berlusconi since 1986. A joint statement by AC Milan’s holding company Fininvest and Rossoneri Sport Investment Lux said on April 13, 2017 : “Today Fininvest has completed the sale of the entire stake owned in AC Milan – equal to 99.93% – to Rossoneri Sport Investment Lux.”
/ AFP PHOTO / MIGUEL MEDINA (Photo credit should read MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP via Getty Images)AFP via Getty Images“After all, we’re only human,” David Han Li, former executive director of AC Milan, says when asked about the personal cost of losing the club to hedge fund Elliott Management in July 2018. The problem is, the public hasn’t seen that side of the Chinese investors up until today.“There are a few reasons why we have kept quiet,” admits Han Li, who is well-dressed and professional in his demeanor. “The first is that now, we don’t have any trust in anyone. It was also about not having trust in the media. Just a few hours after we signed the SpA, all the names of the investors were leaked. It was incredible, and damaged us a lot. There were even leaks from our board meetings, but we don’t know who these came from. “Heavy attacks on us from the media always followed on from important events,” Han Li says with a sigh. “Firstly in November 2017, right after we signed the exclusivity for debt refinancing, a damaging article published in the New York Times showed up. Secondly, on the exact morning when we started the process for debt refinancing in London, the Italian media started up with attacks once again. Who had all this important information?“We don’t have any trust. I didn’t want journalists to mislead or misunderstand what I’m saying. Headlines can become truth, and people just want to hear and see what they want to hear and what they want to see; people would not really care whether or not it’s the truth, and that’s really scary. So I have preferred not to speak.”After this long silence, the former Rossoneri owners have finally decided to tell their side of the story. Yonghong Li, the man who took ownership of the club from Silvio Berlusconi, has set up a Twitter account in order to set the record straight, which Han Li verifies is genuine. “Yes, it’s very much Mr. Li’s account,” he confirms. “He gets some help with the translation, but it really is him talking from the heart. He also thinks that his voice hasn’t really been heard when it comes to recent events at AC Milan. But he was very hurt by some of the false and misleading things that were being said about him. “Instinctively, he tends to avoid publicity, and that means he tends to avoid the media. But what he loves about Twitter is that he can talk directly with other fans, share his thoughts, listen to their views, without depending on the press who could re-interpret what he says. And there are certainly a few false reports that Mr. Li will be correcting.”The Chinese businessman had invested more than €500 million into AC Milan, but left without even a whimper. For the supporters, it has been a part of the club’s storied history that has never been explained. Why did the Chinese investors even get involved in the first place?The answer lies in an unexpected piece of commonality with those in the UK who grew up watching Football Italia on Channel 4—only this was 5,000 miles away.“They first started broadcasting Ita
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