In a league of their own


Italy’s commercial capital may soon want to change its name to Milan-zhou, following the sale of two of its crown jewels to Chinese buyers. First soccer club Inter Milan was bought by Suning, one of China’s biggest retailers, and then last week Silvio Berlusconi confirmed that he is selling rival team AC Milan to a Chinese consortium too. The 79 year-old former Italian prime minister didn’t reveal the identity of the buyer but said the €400 million deal meant that “Milan has now embarked on this path towards China”.

The consortium is promising that it will put new cash into the lossmaking club, with Reuters even suggesting the club might raise further funds through a listing in Shanghai. And it may soon be having detailed discussions with Wanda, another Chinese conglomerate that has made a big push into soccer. According to the Financial Times, Wanda has plans to create a rival to UEFA’s Champions League, to which only Europe’s top clubs will be invited. The elite league will focus on teams from England, Spain, Germany, France and Italy – and in the latter the two Milan clubs are likely to be among those asked to participate, in part because of their Chinese ownership.

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