Yankees, LA fund investing in AC Milan football team

By ANDREW DAMPF, AP sportswriter

ROME (AP) – The New York Yankees and the Los Angeles-based fund of which LeBron James is a part, along with RedBird Capital Partners, are investing in AC Milan, which is close to a deal to buy the Italian soccer champions, for €1.2 billion ($1.2 billion) to buy. The Financial Times reported on Tuesday.

Gerry Cardinale, RedBird’s founder and managing partner, announced in June a tentative agreement to purchase Milan from US firm Elliott Management, which is expected to close in September.

Officials close to RedBird declined to comment on the latest report when contacted by the Associated Press, but said an announcement will be made in the next few days. Officials spoke on condition of anonymity as the final deal has not yet been announced.

Milan, a seven-time European champion, claim their first Italian title in 11 years.

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The Yankees, the 27-time World Series champions, are already involved in soccer as co-owners of Manchester City of New York City FC in Major League Soccer. New York City FC plays some of its home games at Yankee Stadium.

The Main Street Advisors fund, which James supports, counts the rapper Drake among its partners, as well as the English Premier League club Liverpool and the Boston Red Sox.

James and Drake will be passive investors in Milan through the fund and have not taken direct stakes, the newspaper reported.

RedBird also has a stake in Fenway Sports Group, which owns Liverpool and the Red Sox. Champions League rules prohibit two clubs in the competition from being under the same ownership to protect the integrity of matches on the pitch. UEFA will likely have to make a judgment on the extent of RedBird’s influence on decision-making in Liverpool.

RedBird becomes Milan’s fourth owner within five years.

Elliott has been owned by Milan since 2018 after the club’s former Chinese owner failed to repay part of a loan. Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi controlled Milan for more than 30 years before selling it to the Chinese group in 2017.

Inter Milan, Roma, Fiorentina and Bologna are among other foreign-owned teams in Serie A.

After failing to qualify for Europe’s elite competition for seven consecutive years – including a year-long UEFA ban for breaching financial supervision rules – Milan are playing in the Champions League for the second straight season. That can net the club around €100m ($100m) in UEFA prize money and help restore the club’s global brand.

Milan’s team includes 40-year-old Zlatan Ibrahimović and fellow striker Olivier Giroud.

AP sportswriter Graham Dunbar in Geneva contributed.

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Andrew Dampf can be reached at https://twitter.com/AndrewDampf

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