Last Friday I wrote an article which looked ahead to life at AC Milan with Adriano Galliani, who was CEO and Vice President of the club, tendering his resignation earlier in the day to be effective later this month with club legends Paolo Maldini and Demetrio Albertini taking over for Galliani. After a Saturday meeting with club owner Silvio Berlusconi, the narrative changed as Galliani withdrew the resignation he was going to present. The result of this meeting — aside from Silvio showing better negotiation skills than at any time he was Prime Minister of Italy with regards to getting Italy out of economic doldrums — was the announcement of a new executive structure at the club.
In addition to Silvio proving to be a good negotiator and a good friend of mine who is a diehard Milan telling me “see, I told you Galliani resigning wasn’t ‘official’”, there was an announcement that there would be a new executive setup at Milan with Galliani staying on as a co-CEO along with Barbara Berlusconi, daughter of Silvio. In the new setup, Galliani will handle all sporting related matters while Barbara will handle all business, financial, and commercial matters. Without thinking of a better term, this new executive setup at AC Milan is nothing but a hot mess.
Now in order to understand why this new executive structure at Milanello is a hot mess one must understand some of what has gone on since last season to know that this hot mess is a disaster waiting to happen. The biggest criticism — and rightfully so — of Galliani and by extension coach Massimiliano Allegri is the failure to conduct smart transfer buys and failure to nurture and develop youth team players even though this has now become a point of emphasis given the economics that Milan and all Italian clubs must play under.
It has been the sporting side that is seen as broken and needing to be addressed with a change of CEO, Vice President, or any other title given to whoever runs the sporting side of the club. The reason for this is that Galliani has rightfully been blamed for failures of the sporting side as he has failed to modernize how he conducts business on the sporting side while having done a very good job in the commercial side of keeping Milan relevant on that end, although this could change if the on-field product continues to disappoint.
Add all of that to the fact that it was been reported that Barbara and Galliani have clashed and have two very different ideas of how to improve the sporting side of the club and now they are expected to co-exist as co-CEOs, and how am I supposed to buy into the narrative that this will work? This is somewhat insulting to anyone with a bit of intelligence given that these two will have to eventually sit down on a regular basis and agree on any and all sporting decisions when it’s clear already that they can’t agree if it’s sunny or cloudy if they looked out the window. This does not even factor into the fact that we have no idea if Barbara is even a viable person to be a co-CEO or if she will be the next Rosella Sensi.
When I wrote my article last Friday I stated that all clubs, specifically legendary clubs, reach a point where they need to turn the page and make certain decisions in order to ensure that there can be success in the future. The decision to make Galliani now serve as co-CEO along with Barbara Berlusconi, aside from saving Silvio $60 million given that was the value of Galliani’s severance package, means that none of the issues with Milan will be resolved. If anything, things will get worse before they get better over at Milanello.