October 16, 2019 / 2:13 PM / a month ago

AC Milan loss deepens as return to former glory remains elusive

MILAN, Oct 16 (Reuters) - Falling revenues and rising costs pushed AC Milan deeper into the red last year, according to a financial statement seen by Reuters, as the former European soccer champions struggle to keep pace with rivals off the field as well as on it.

AC Milan, seven times winner of the European Championship, has been stuck in a mid-table rut for several years. Owner U.S. activist fund Elliott Management has been trying to get the club back into shape with an eye on a future sale.

Consolidated losses at June 30 increased by 16% to 146 million euros compared to 126 million euros reported in the same period of the previous year.

Revenues fell by 14.7% to 241 million euros, much lower then at top European clubs like Real Madrid, Paris Saint Germain or Bayern Munich. Overall costs jumped 19% to 373 million euros.

Elliott declined to immediately comment and AC Milan did not respond to a request for comment.

Elliott took control of the club last year after its owner, Chinese businessman Li Yonghong, failed to make a loan payment. Li bought the club from former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in 2017 with funding from Elliott.

AC Milan won the last of its 18 Serie A titles in 2011 and last played in the Champions League in the 2013-14 season. The club is working with city rivals Internazionale FC on a new stadium project to boost matchday revenues as part of a wider project to return to the glory days of the past.

The club, which sacked former manager Marco Giampaolo last week and replaced him with Stefano Pioli, has acknowledged a turnaround will not be easy. Chief executive Ivan Gazidis, who held the same position at Arsenal before moving to AC Milan last year, said there was a long way to go "to turn the ship".

According to the financial report, a Luxembourg-based vehicle controlled by Elliott injected 265.5 million euros of fresh funds into the club last year.

AC Milan qualified for the Europa League this season after finishing fifth in Serie A but pulled out after voluntarily accepting a one-year ban from all European competitions for breaching UEFA's Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules.

The report warned that UEFA may impose new disciplinary measures, including possible fines, if the club were to violate the rules again during the monitoring period. The club said it was keeping aside some funds to cover any penalties.

Reporting by Elvira Pollina; Editing by Kirsten Donovan

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