Berlusconi says would prefer Italian buyer for AC Milan

  • Football
  • Saturday, 07 May 2016

Forza Italia party (PDL) leader Silvio Berlusconi gestures during a Northern League rally in Bologna, central Italy, November 8, 2015. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini

MILAN (Reuters) - Former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said on Friday he would like to find an Italian buyer for his Serie A soccer team AC Milan, acknowledging that it had played dreadfully over the past season.

Two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters at the end of April that a Chinese consortium had offered to buy AC Milan valuing the club at around 700 million euros including debt.

"To those who tell me a sale is necessary, I say that I've been trying to do that for a year, but I'd like to leave Milan in good hands ... preferably Italian ones," Berlusconi said in video published on his Facebook page.

"Any suggestion is welcome," he added.

Despite his words, a source close to the matter told Reuters on Friday that the various parties were still trying to reach a deal with the Chinese investors.

Last summer, a group led by Thai businessman Bee Taechaubol signed a preliminary agreement to buy 48 percent of AC Milan, but a final accord was never struck. A person who followed the negotiations said Berlusconi changed his mind at the last minute.

AC Milan, seven times European champions, has been a central part of Berlusconi's media and political empire since he became president of the club 29 years ago.

But the team has lost some of its shine in recent years, racking up debts. It won the most recent of its 18 Serie A championships in 2011 and is currently 7th in the table.

Berlusconi said he had invested more than one billion euros in the club during his time in charge, including 152 million this past season. "And yet, you will agree with me that we have never seen Milan play so badly as this year," he said.

(Reporting by Valentina Za and Elvira Pollina; Editing by Crispian Balmer)

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