AC Milan have been banned from Europe for the next two seasons after breaking Financial Fair Play rules.
The Italian giants had qualified for the Europa League next season after finishing sixth in Serie A, but they will not line up in the competition next season.
Gennaro Gattuso’s side could be faced with a mass exodus of players who may leave without European football, including Gianluigi Donnarumma. The Rossoneri can appeal the decision via the Court of Arbitration for Sport, but it is not known whether they will.
A Uefa statement said: “AC Milan is excluded from participating in the next UEFA club competition for which it would otherwise qualify in the next two seasons.
“This decision may be appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. The full reasoned decision will be published on UEFA.com in due course.”
AC MILAN HAVE confirmed they will lodge an appeal against UEFA’s decision to ban them from the 2018-19 Europa League.
The Serie A club’s suspension from the competition was announced on Wednesday, with UEFA citing a breach of Financial Fair Play and licensing regulations.
UEFA’s ruling is subject to a potential appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, however, and Milan – who qualified for the Europa League group stages by finishing sixth in Serie A last season – have confirmed they will fight the decision.
A statement on the Italian club’s official website reads:
“The Adjudicatory Chamber of UEFA’s Club Financial Control Body has decided to sanction AC Milan, for the breach of the UEFA Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play Regulations in the three-year period between July 2014 and June 2017 with one year of exclusion from UEFA Club Competitions,” Milan said in a statement on their official website.
After taking note of the aforementioned ruling, AC Milan has instructed its legal team to appeal the decision before the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, seeking for a prompt review of the ruling. “AC Milan fully trusts the CAS will hear its arguments and will refrain from commenting further pending the arbitration.”
Though Milan will not, as it stands, be permitted to compete in Europe’s second-tier club competition, they would be free to play in the Champions League or Europa League in 2019-20 should they qualify for either tournament.
Milan were taken over by a consortium headed by Chinese businessman Li Yonghong, who then became the club’s chairman, in April last year.
The club subsequently spent big before the 2017-18 campaign, signing the likes of Leonardo Bonucci, Andre Silva and Hakan Calhanoglu.
Gennaro Gattuso replaced the sacked Vincenzo Montella in November, also leading Milan to the final of the Coppa Italia, where they lost to Juventus, and the last 16 of the Europa League.
The world’s top sports court on Friday overturned a European ban imposed on AC Milan for violating UEFA's financial fair play rules, calling the punishment ‘not proportionate.’
UEFA banned Milan from playing in next season's Europa League citing the club's failure to meet the "break-even requirement," which bars clubs from taking on debt to fund daily operations.
But the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled that "some important elements have not been properly assessed," by UEFA judges.
The court agreed with UEFA's assessment that the club was in breach of break-even rules but found that the "current financial situation of the club was now better following the recent change in the club’s ownership."
"The decision to exclude AC Milan from the UEFA Club Competition was not proportionate," a CAS statement said. CAS referred the case back to UEFA as requested by AC Milan, whose executives argued their appeal at the Lausanne-based court on Thursday.
The court "considers that the (UEFA's) Adjudicatory Chamber is in a better position than the CAS Panel to issue a new proportionate disciplinary measure on the basis of the current financial situation of the club," the statement said.
AC Milan have spent a troubled 15 months since they were bought by Chinese businessman Li Yonghong from Silvio Berlusconi in April 2017. The takeover was partly funded by a high-interest loan of 300 million euros ($348 million) from American hedge fund Elliott Management.
When Milan failed to make a repayment at the start of July, Elliott moved to take over, a process which is due to be ratified by club shareholders on July 21.
The Chinese owners spent more than 200 million euros on players last summer and that, combined with the terms of the Elliott loan, triggered the interest of UEFA.
At the end of June, UEFA ruled that Milan were in breach of "the break-even requirement." AC Milan's managing director Marco Fassone has blamed the club's woes on Berlusconi.
But the Chinese ownership of the club was also clouded by questions over the source of Li's wealth. In October The New York Times claimed that "virtually nobody" in China had ever heard of him.
Elliot, now in full control, has pledged to inject 50 million euros ($59 million) to bring financial stability to the seven-time European champions.