Milan AC S.p.A.
Milan AC S.p.A.
Via Filippo Turati 3
Telephone: +39 02 62281
Fax: +39 02 6598876
Web site: http://www.acmilan.com
Wholly Owned Subsidiary of Fininvest S.p.A.
Founded: 1899 as Milan Cricket and Football Club
Sales: EUR 250 million ($283 million) (2005 est.)
NAIC: 711211 Sports Teams and Clubs
Milan AC S.p.A. is one of the world's most recognized and most successful soccer clubs. The rossoneri ("redblacks," after the team's red-and-black striped jerseys) are one of the world's winningest teams, boasting six European Championships, 17 "Scudetto" (national) championships, four European Super Cups, five Italian Super Cups, and three Intercontinental Cups, among its many victories since its founding in 1899. Milan AC shares the 85,700-seat Giuseppe Meazza stadium in Milan with arch-rival Inter. In 2005, however, Milan's CEO Adriano Galliani announced that the time had begun to plan a move to a new stadium. Milan AC also operates the world-famous training center Milanello, located on a parkland site of 160,000 square meters some 50 kilometers from Milan. Since 1992, Milan has operated the Milan Lab, one of the world's most sophisticated sports-oriented biomedical centers, which aims to predict potential player injuries. Milan AC is 100 percent controlled by Fininvest, which in turn is controlled by Italian media magnate and former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, an avid Milan fan who named his political party, Forza Italy, after the popular team cheer. Belusconi's acquisition of Milan AC, which not only rescued the club from bankruptcy but permitted the club to regain its past glory, has been credited with aiding Berlusconi's political fortunes. Other companies in the Fininvest group include Mediaset, Italy's dominant media group, which also controls much of the broadcasting rights to the country's Serie A games; publishing group Mondadori; and film producer and cinema operator Medusa, among others. Milan AC posted revenues of EUR 250 million ($283 million) in 2005.
BRITISH BEGINNINGS AT THE END OF THE 19TH CENTURY
The British expatriate community in Milan at the end of the 19th century played a major role in the formation of one of Italy's most-loved football (also called soccer) clubs. Professional soccer was then in its early stages, with a first set of rules codified by a group called The Football Association in the United Kingdom in the 1860s. The name "soccer" was derived from "association" in order to distinguish the sport from another rapidly growing game, rugby football. By the 1890s, soccer had reached Milan, which saw the formation of the city's first team, called Mediolanum, which had been the Roman name for the city. Nonetheless, soccer in Italy remained a minor phenomenon.
Much of the impetus toward the founding of Milan AC came through the efforts of Herbert Kilpin. Born in England in 1870, Kilpin, an avid cricket and soccer player, had traveled to Turin, where he found work at a textile company. By 1891, Kilpin had joined FC Torinese, one of Italy's first professional soccer teams, and he became the first from England to play soccer internationally as a professional.
Kilpin later moved to Milan, where he met two other British expatriates, Samuel Davies and Neville Allison, who both became star players on the early AC Milan team. Kilpin himself joined the Mediolanum team in 1898.
Avid crickets players, Kilpin, Davies, and Allison became interested in creating their own club to include that game as well, in an effort to popularize cricket among Italians. Kilpin had come into contact with another British expatriate, Alfred Edwards, a former vice-consul at the British embassy in Milan and a wealthy landowner. Edwards, a cricket player, had been active in organizing cricket matches on his property, and was also a well-known personality in the city.
One evening in December 1899, while drinking at the Fiaschetteria Toscana wine shop on Via Berchet, Kilpin, Davies, and Allison ran into Edwards and two of his friends. Kilpin approached Edwards with the idea of establishing a new cricket and soccer club; Edwards agreed to put up funding for the club, and was quickly joined by his companions. The group decided to name the club Milan Cricket and Football Club, with Edwards serving as its first president. Kilpin and Edwards then began putting together a board of directors, which included Pierro Pirelli, grandson of the founder of the Pirelli tire company. Pirelli later became president of the club as well as a major financial supporter of the team.
The club acquired a playing field, known as Trotters field, and registered with the Italian Football Federation. Although the club spent some time trying to attract members for its cricket team, the club failed to attract much interest for the sport. The idea was ultimately abandoned and Milan and the club decided to concentrate its energies on its soccer team, changing its name to Milan Football Club. Kilpin was credited with devising the team's uniform, choosing the colors red and black—red to emphasize the club's ferocity, black to portray its opponents' fear—and borrowed from the striped jersey already favored by many British rugby teams.
Milan played, and won, its first-ever game against Mediolanum in March 1900. The team already featured an international mix of players that was to highlight much of its success in later decades. By the end of 1901, the team had won its first Italian national championship, known as the Scudetto ("shield") because the winning team received the right to add a shield to their uniforms. That victory established Milan as a major force in the young Italian professional soccer league.
The team scored success again, winning two new Scudettos in 1906 and in 1907, under Herbert Kilpin. Kilpin retired from play that year, and was later killed during World War I. In the meantime, Pierro Pirelli had taken over as the club president, a position he held until the end of the 1920s. Pirelli's deep pockets were instrumental in financing the club, and its playing field. Yet the beginning of the Pirelli era was marked by controversy, as Italian players came to dominate the club. In 1908, a group of Milan players broke away and formed a rival team, Internazionale Football Club Milano, with the expressed purpose of accepting foreign players. The two teams met on the playing field that same year, with Milan winning the match. This became the start of a fierce and lasting rivalry between the two teams into the next century.
ENDING THE DROUGHT IN 1951
Pirelli's backing enabled the team to move into their own stadium in 1926. The stadium, called the San Siro after its neighborhood location, originally seated 10,000, already impressive in those days. The San Siro was later expanded several times. In 1939, the stadium could hold 55,000. Milan at first used the stadium exclusively; in 1947, however, rival club Inter began playing their home games at the stadium as well. This led to further expansion, and at its height the stadium's capacity reached 150,000, although a limit was set at 100,000 for security reasons. The San Siro stadium was renamed the Giuseppe Meazza stadium, in honor of the famed Inter player. Milan fans nonetheless continued to refer to the stadium by its original name. In 1989, in conjunction with Italy's hosting of the World Cup, the stadium was remodeled again, fitted with a glass roof, which reduced capacity to 85,000.
The team presents itself to its fans with a hundred years football tradition spent with constant commitment and high professional skills on the pitch and off it, ready to start a new season and face new, exciting challenges.
The new stadium failed to inspire the team, however, as Milan found itself without a championship for some 44 years. A succession of presidents failed to spark the team's revival. In the meantime, under the Fascist government, the team was forced to adopt new team colors, and to change its name, to Associazione Calcio ("soccer") Milano. Following Italy's defeat in World War II, the team reverted back to its former colors, and readopted the British spelling of the name, becoming AC Milan.
The arrival of Umberto Trabattoni as team president following the war, and then of Andrea Rizzoli in the 1950s, produced a dramatic turnaround in Milan's standing. Trabattoni brought in a number of new players, notably the Swedish trio of Gren, Liedholm, and Nordahl. By 1951, Milan had ended its drought, capturing the Scudetto for the first time in decades. The team went on to win the Scudetto three more times that decade, as well as a number of other prestigious international cups.
Milan continued its winning streak during the 1960s, capturing the Champions League title at Wimbledon in 1963. Part of the team's success came through the efforts of the team's coach, Nereo Rocco, who was credited with developing a defensive style of play known as "catenaccio." Under Rizzoli, meanwhile, Milan opened a new sports training center, called Milanello, which featured state-of-the-art training facilities on a vast parkland.
The end of the 1970s provided a new low point in the club's history, however. In 1979, the team became embroiled in a match-fixing scandal. In the resulting sanction, Milan was dropped from the Serie A league and forced to play in Italy's Serie B. Although the team was accepted back into Serie A the following year, it suffered an even worse humiliation when it was relegated to the Serie B in 1981 because of its poor performance during the season.
BERLUSCONI ERA LEADING INTO THE 21ST CENTURY
By the mid-1980s, Milan was nearly bankrupt and on the verge of collapse. Fortunately for the team, however, one of its biggest fans was Silvio Berlusconi, who by then was already head of one of Italy's largest fortunes. Belusconi bought the team in 1986, and promptly steered Milan to its years of greatest triumph, which saw the team emerge as one of a small number of truly international teams. A major part of Milan's success came with its aggressive acquisition of new players, especially a new trio from The Netherlands, including Gullit, Rijkaard, and van Basten.
By the end of the 1980s, AC Milan was once again on the winning path, scoring a number of consecutive victories, including two Champions League titles and two Intercontinental Cup titles. Into the 1990s, the team reached even greater heights, scoring three consecutive Scudetto titles. The team also played in the Champions League finals for three consecutive years in the early 1990s. By the middle of the decade, Milan's popularity was credited with helping in another win, as Berlusconi, who named his political party Forza Italia ("Go Italy") after a popular Milan club chant, was elected Italian prime minister.
Into the 2000s, AC Milan added to its win record, capturing the Scudetti in 1999 and 2004, and the Champions League in 2003. By the middle of the decade, AC Milan ranked among Italy's most winning teams, trailing only Juventus. The company faced a financial setback in the early 2000s as well. Just days after signing star player Fernando Redondo to a contract worth more than $50 million, Redondo injured his knee, ending his career. In response, the team established a new sports biomedical center, Milan Lab, which sought to develop means of predicting, and avoiding, player injuries.
- Milan Cricket and Football Club is founded by two British expatriates in Italy, Herbert Kilpin and Alfred Edwards; soon after the name is changed to Milan Football Club.
- Milan wins its first Scudetto title.
- The new San Siro stadium is inaugurated.
- The Milanello sports training center opens.
- Silvio Berlusconi rescues Milan from bankruptcy.
- The Milan Lab biomedical sports facility opens.
- Berlusconi is forced to resign the chairmanship of Milan.
- Milan announces plan to move to a new stadium.
Berlusconi was forced to step down from the chairmanship of Milan in 2004, when the Italian government adopted new legislation restricting government officials from holding executive positions in private businesses. Little change was expected for Milan, which had already been under the de facto leadership of CEO Adriano Galliani for some time by then. In 2005, Galliani indicated that the club had begun examining plans to move Milan to a new stadium. In that year as well, the club reached a worldwide licensing agreement with Warner Bros. Consumer Products, in a move that was expected to help boost team revenues beyond 2005's EUR 250 million ($283 million). As one of the world's most well-known sports teams, AC Milan seemed certain to score many more goals in the new century.
Milan Lab; Milanello.
AS Roma S.p.A.; Inter Milan S.p.A.; Juventus.
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Plagenhoef, Scott, "Club Snapshot: AC Milan," Soccer Digest, November 2001, p. 14.
Sullivan, Ruth, "Why It Is Impossible to Wipe the Smile Off Berlusconi's Face," European, May 16, 1996, p. 23.
"Warner Bros. Consumer Products Ready to Kick It with AC Milan," Licensing Journal, June-July 2005, p. 36.