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AC Milan banned from Europa League over financial fair play violations

AC Milan were purchased by an ownership group led by investor Li Yonghong in April 2017.

AC Milan have been excluded from playing in the Europa League next season for breaching UEFA’s financial fair play (FFP) regulations.

Milan were referred to UEFA’s adjudicatory chamber in May after failing to provide sufficient evidence of their financial stability moving forward, with doubts raised after their owner, Li Yonghong, took out a substantial loan that is due to be repaid by October.

A meeting in Nyon, Switzerland, this month to discuss the case led to the adjudicatory chamber imposing the heaviest sanction yet on a club from one of Europe’s top five leagues — Spain, England, Italy, Germany or France — and excluding Milan from its competitions.

Milan’s statement including wording that the ban covered the next two seasons, but seeing as how they already qualified for the upcoming season’s Europa League, it will only come into affect in 2018-19. The club are likely to have to go through further checks to be be reinstated if they qualify again in 2019-20.

“The club is excluded from participating in the next UEFA club competition for which it would otherwise qualify in the next two (2) seasons (i.e. one competition in 2018/19 or 2019/20, subject to qualification),” a statement said.

Milan have the opportunity to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland. A final decision would be sought urgently by Milan and UEFA since the second qualifying round for the Europa League begins on July 29.

If the ruling stands, Atalanta would qualify directly for the Europa League group stage for this season. Fiorentina would consequently take Atalanta’s place in the Europa League qualifying rounds, though that process has yet to be confirmed.

Last week, multiple reports in Italy reported that Li missed a €32 million payment on the loan used to purchase the team, allowing investment firm Elliott Management to control the club.

In response, the Ricketts family, who bought the Chicago Cubs in 2009, expressed interest in buying a controlling stake in Milan, which Forbes values at $612 million.

Ben Gladwell reports on Serie A, the Italian national team and the Bundesliga for ESPN FC, UEFA and the Press Association. @UEFAcomBenG.

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