Europa League: AC Milan face stiff Arsenal test




AC Milan’s superb recent run faces a stiff test against Arsenal in the Europa League last-16 first leg in Italy on Thursday amid a backdrop of murky finances which are threatening one of Italy’s most successful clubs.
Former AC Milan midfielder Gennaro Gattuso has turned around the fortunes of the struggling former European power on the pitch, with his side unbeaten in 13 games, and back within reach of Champions League qualification.
But behind the scenes European football’s governing body Uefa have voiced concerns over the club’s complicated financial situation under their new Chinese owners.
There have been questions about the financial stability of the Chinese-led consortium that purchased the club from Silvio Berlusconi for 740 million euros ($918mn) last April, spending more than 200 million euros on new players in the summer.
The seven-time European champions have a massive loan for repayment and are in trouble with Financial Fair Play restrictions, with Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BAML) given the mandate to refinance debts.
AC Milan are working to refinance more than 300 million euros in high-interest loans from US hedge fund Elliott Management. If the club is not able to refinance by next October the US hedge fund will seize control of the club.
But limited information on the source of Chinese owner Li Yonghong’s wealth is proving a barrier to refinancing with the 48-year-old businessman last month dismissing reports he was insolvent when he purchased the club.
The club are also in the firing line with Uefa.
Uefa will assess Milan’s finances again in the coming months with possible punishments including limits on transfer spending, player salaries, and squad sizes for Uefa competitions.
Arsenal, meanwhile, are in crisis, having lost eight of their last 13 games in all competitions, to sit sixth in the Premier League, with the Europa League representing their only remaining chance of success this season.
Other fixtures:
Atlético Madrid v L/Moskva
CSKA v O/Lyonnais
B/Dortmund v Salzburg
RB Leipzig v Zenit
O/Marseille v Athletic Club
Sporting CP v Viktoria Plzeň
Lazio v Dynamo Kyiv

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