History of A.C. Milan
A.C. Milan was founded as Milan Foot-Ball and Cricket Club in 1899 by English expatriates Alfred Edwards and Herbert Kilpin. Although the club itself claims 16 December of that year as its foundation date, historical evidence show that the club was actually founded on 13 December. In honour of its English origins, the club has retained the English spelling of the city’s name, as opposed to the Italian spelling Milano, which it was forced to bear under the fascist regime. Milan won its first Italian championship in 1901 and a further two in succession in 1906 and 1907.
In 1908, Milan experienced a split caused by internal disagreements over the signing of foreign players, which led to the forming of another Milan-based team, F.C. Internazionale Milano. Following these events, Milan did not manage to win a single domestic title until 1950–51. The 1950s saw the club return to the top of Italian football, headed by the famous Gre-No-Li Swedish trio Gunnar Gren, Gunnar Nordahl and Nils Liedholm. This was one of the club’s most successful periods domestically, with the Scudetto going to Milan in 1951, 1955, 1957, 1959 and 1962. In 1963, Milan won its first continental title by beating Benfica in the final of the European Cup. This success was repeated in 1969, with a 4–1 win over Ajax in the final, which was followed by the Intercontinental Cup title the same year. During this period Milan also won its first Coppa Italia, with victory over Padova in the 1967 final, and two European Cup Winners’ Cups: in 1967–68 and 1972–73.
Milan won a tenth league title in 1979, but after the retirement of Gianni Rivera in the same year, the team went into a period of decline. The club was involved in the 1980 Totonero scandal and as punishment was relegated to Serie B for the first time in its history. The scandal was centred around a betting syndicate paying players and officials to fix the outcome of matches. Milan achieved promotion back to Serie A at the first attempt, winning the 1980–81 Serie B title, but were again relegated a year later as the team ended its 1981–82 campaign in third-last place. In 1983, Milan won the Serie B title for the second time in three seasons to return to Serie A, where they achieved a sixth-place finish in 1983–84.
On 20 February 1986, entrepreneur Silvio Berlusconi acquired the club and saved it from bankruptcy after investing vast amounts of money, appointing rising manager Arrigo Sacchi at the helm of the Rossoneri and signing Dutch internationals Ruud Gullit, Marco van Basten and Frank Rijkaard. The Dutch trio added an attacking impetus to the team, and complemented the club’s Italian internationals Paolo Maldini, Franco Baresi, Alessandro Costacurta and Roberto Donadoni. Under Sacchi, Milan won its first Scudetto in nine years in the 1987–88 season. The following year, the club won its first European Cup in two decades, beating Romanian club Steaua București 4–0 in the final. Milan retained their title with a 1–0 win over Benfica a year later and was the last team to win back-to-back European Cups until Real Madrid‘s win in 2017. The Milan team of 1989–90, nicknamed the “Immortals” in the Italian media, has been voted the best club side of all time in a global poll of experts conducted by World Soccer magazine.
After Sacchi left Milan in 1991, he was replaced by the club’s former player Fabio Capello whose team won three consecutive Serie A titles between 1992 and 1994, a spell which included a 58-match unbeaten run in Serie A (which earned the team the label “the Invincibles”), and back-to-back UEFA Champions League final appearances in 1993, 1994 and 1995. A year after losing 1–0 to Marseille in the 1993 Champions League final, Capello’s team reached its peak in one of Milan’s most memorable matches of all time, the famous 4–0 win over Barcelona in the 1994 Champions League final. Capello’s side went on to win the 1995–96 league title before he left to coach Real Madrid in 1996. In 1998–99, after a two-year period of decline, Milan lifted its 16th championship in the club’s centenary season.
Milan’s next period of success came under another former player, Carlo Ancelotti. After his appointment in November 2001, Ancelotti took Milan to the 2003 Champions League final, where they defeated Juventus on penalties to win the club’s sixth European Cup. The team then won the Scudetto in 2003–04 before reaching the 2005 Champions League final, where they were beaten by Liverpool on penalties despite leading 3–0 at half-time. Two years later, the two teams met again in the 2007 Champions League final, with Milan winning 2–1 to lift the title for a seventh time. The team then won its first FIFA Club World Cup in December 2007. In 2009, after becoming Milan’s second longest serving coach with 420 matches overseen, Ancelotti left the club to take over as head-coach at Chelsea.
During this period, the club was involved in the Calciopoli scandal, where five teams were accused of fixing matches by selecting favourable referees. A police inquiry excluded any involvement of Milan managers, but the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) unilaterally decided that it had sufficient evidence to charge Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani. As a result, Milan was initially punished with a 15-point deduction and was banned from the 2006–07 UEFA Champions League. An appeal saw that penalty reduced to eight points, which allowed the club to retain its Champions League participation.
Following the aftermath of Calciopoli, local rivals Internazionale dominated Serie A, winning four Scudetti. However, with the help a strong squad boasting players such as Zlatan Ibrahimović, Robinho and Alexandre Pato joining many of the veterans of the club’s mid-decade European successes, Milan recaptured the Scudetto in the 2010–11 Serie A season, their first since the 2003–04 season, and 18th overall.
However, after the Scudetto the club declined in performance. It saw the club failed to qualify to European competitions since 2014. Fininvest, the holding company of the club also signed a preliminary agreement with Bee Taechaubol to sell 48% stake of the club for €480 million in 2015, after a net loss of €91.3 million in 2014 financial year and subsequent financial contribution from Fininvest. However, the deal collapsed. On 5 August 2016, a new preliminary agreement was signed with a Chinese investment management company Sino-Europe Sports Investment Management Changxing Co., Ltd. , which Fininvest sold 99.93% stake of Milan for about €520 million, plus the refurbishment of the club financial debt of €220 million. (A further €90 million credit line from Fininvest was added to the valuation as the new debt was occurred between 1 July 2016 and the closing date). 0.07% stake of the club were retained by other shareholders. On 13 April 2017, the deal was completed and Rossoneri Sport Investment Lux became the new direct parent company of the club.