AC Milan Owner Reportedly Tried and Failed to Refinance Club Using Bitcoin

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistMarch 26, 2018

MILAN, ITALY - APRIL 15:  AC Milan new board member David Han Li (R) and new AC Milan CEO Marco Fassone look on prior to the Serie A match between FC Internazionale and AC Milan at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on April 15, 2017 in Milan, Italy.  (Photo by Claudio Villa./Getty Images)
Claudio Villa./Getty Images

AC Milan owner Li Yonghong reportedly failed in his attempt to "refinance" the club using cryptocurrency Bitcoin.

Italian newspaper La Repubblica (h/t Calciomercato.com) reported Li's attempt to use payment service Bitcoin as an alternative means to satisfy Elliott Management, the hedge fund to whom he owes a large debt.

Milan are pressuring their chairman to show signs of financial progress, and Italian daily Corriere della Sera (h/t Football Italia) wrote the club has given Li until April 4 to contribute €10 million. It's said failure to meet the deadline would allow Elliott to effectively take ownership of the club.

However, Italian football expert Gabriele Marcotti recently questioned the validity of reports referring to Bitcoin as a refinancing option at all:

Gabriele Marcotti @Marcotti

@tancredipalmeri Not a scandal, just nonsense as it’s explained in the story. Bitcoin is no more of an investment than any other currency. It’s simply more volatile. But, I repeat, if he owns Bitcoin he can use it to pay off debt. Still don’t see how you “refinance with Bitcoin”

Football Italia noted Li has until October to repay the €180 million loan he took from Elliott in order to purchase Milan as part of a Chinese consortium takeover in 2017. The Rossoneri need €35 million in capital by June 30 in order to qualify for the 2018-19 Serie A campaign.

Cryptocurrency is an emerging market in the financial sector, but its young age makes it less predictable and more volatile in its behaviour, suggesting Li's situation is looking desperate should recent reports prove true.

The Milan figurehead released a statement last month denying any claims of looming bankruptcy, per Yahoo Sport UK:

Yahoo Sport UK @YahooSportUK

#ACMilan president and owner Li Yonghong issue statement to strongly deny untrue bankruptcy claims. 🚫 Full statement 🔎👇 https://t.co/MqVo4Yb5M7

Milan were one of the biggest spenders in the 2017 summer transfer window, just months after Rossoneri Sport Investment Luxembourg completed its takeover, splashing more than £150 million on transfer fees.

Results didn't improve on a consistent basis until former Milan star Gennaro Gattuso took over the reins in November.

Serie A writer David Amoyal touched on the bad press that's hit the Rossoneri since their fall from grace in the past six years or so:

David Amoyal @DavidAmoyal

I look forward to the day where the discussions on Milan are centered exclusively on what happens on the pitch in the moment rather than their finances and their former legendary players and teams

The financial complications around Milan were recently made worse after Italian daily Gazzetta dello Sport (h/t Football Italia) reported an investigation has been opened into Li's takeover amid suggestions of money laundering.

Much like Bitcoin, it's difficult to forecast in which direction Milan will be heading in the near future, with increasing pressure placed upon Li to find a solution to their cash concerns.  


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