AC Milan owner Gerry Cardinale is promising to build a new stadium in the city

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AC Milan's private equity owner Gerry Cardinale has pledged to build a new 70,000-seat „American-style” stadium for the Italian soccer club, pouring cold water on the city's mayor's efforts to restore its historic San Siro stadium.

Cardinale, managing partner of Redbird Capital Partners, told the FT Business of Football Summit in London on Thursday that the club was ready to move forward with construction of its new stadium on the outskirts of the Italian city.

„We've made more progress in 18 months than I thought in terms of a new stadium in Italy … we can start doing things differently. [in football]”said the cardinal. „The ecosystem of European football needs to change.”

Speaking to AC Milan legend Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Cardinale added: „We want to make a difference with a great American stadium that we own. We owe it to the fans.”

Ibrahimovic joked: „San Siro will miss me more than I miss San Siro.”

Ever since US hedge fund Elliott Management took over AC Milan in 2018, the future of the San Siro, one of European football's most famous sporting venues, has been in doubt. , or create a new one.

Building new stadiums for Italy's top teams has been difficult due to the country's stubborn bureaucracy.

“There is a big gap between Serie A and other leagues. It's about the budget, the economy,” Ibrahimovic said. „Italy needs something more, they need something new.”

The Swedish superstar described the Cardinal's plan for the club and its stadium as „giving the fans what they deserve, because it comes to another level, you run it in a different way, then you can attract better players, better economy, and it becomes a domino effect.”

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RedBird, which bought Milan in a 1.2 billion euro deal in 2022, recently bought land in the city's southern suburbs. The new football stadium is the first to be built in Italy since Juventus moved to a new stadium in Turin in 2011.

Italian club owners have complained about heavy red tape, which has halted the construction of new stadiums suitable for televising and streaming world-class broadcast production. The slow development of new infrastructure contributed to the decline of Serie A, once considered Europe's premier football league.

The renovation of Milan's 98-year-old San Siro has been a sticking point between the two biggest local clubs – which operate under a concession agreement with the city – and Mayor Giuseppe Sala. Italian authorities have imposed conditions on any potential renovation of the facility, which the clubs say would limit capacity and undermine profitability.

Salah hoped to convince the clubs to agree to a new 100-year lease following a full renovation of the San Siro.

Rome-based WeBuild said on Wednesday that renovations to the San Siro would take place during the Italian league's summer break, allowing clubs to continue playing throughout the season. The restoration will last at least two years.

But Cardinale and Ibrahimovic wanted AC Milan to own their own stadium.

Milan ranked 13th in Deloitte's most recent annual Football Clubs Revenue. The Italian side will have a total revenue of €385mn for the 2022-23 season, up from €257mn the previous year. But its matchday revenue was just €79m last year, well below other clubs.

While building a new stadium is one way a club can take steps to increase revenue, television deals are typically negotiated by leagues. Many clubs are also moving to improve their infrastructure.

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According to Deloitte, the total match-day revenue of the world's top 20 revenue-earning clubs will be €1.9bn in 2022-23. Milan trail Spanish teams Real Madrid and Barcelona, ​​French champions Paris Saint-Germain and German champions Bayern Munich in both overall revenue and match-day revenue.

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