Muammar Gaddafi meets with Silvio Berlusconi
As rumours go, this is still one hell of a doozy. Muammar Gaddafi who looks uncannily like Keith Richards or Geoffrey Rush or an amalgam of the two is believed to be in negotiations to buy out AC Milan from Silvio Berlusconi.
La Repubblica, the publication that wrote this article is well known for its opposition to Berlusconi as it espouses a decidedly left wing perspective. While Gaddafi might be a bit far fetched as an owner, it is not in the realm of impossibility. Berlusconi might actually be looking for a way out of AC Milan if it all makes good business sense.
His children Marina and Piersilvio, as heirs to his vast business enterprise, have a jaundiced view of the club, looking on it as an expensive boondoggle, a siphon for expensive and ultimately unrewarding amounts spent on player transfers. The club too has become a political liability. The Kaka debacle is believed to have cost Berlusconi his political clout in the European Council where his party Forza Italia has lost a couple of points. Building a new stadium for AC Milan has been suspended as Berlusconi apparently does not want to take on even more debt as he becomes more serious about the club’s sale.
Berlusconi’s interest in Gaddafi centers around the lucrative oil deals that Italy might end up being the beneficiary if all goes well with the mercurial and unpredictable Libyan leader. The Libyans are, cue surprise; long been interested in soccer and have made past inquiries into the possible acquisition of Juventus and Roma. The sale of AC Milan might be a way of greasing the palm of Gaddafi as Berlusconi unloads the club in increments.
All of this comes in the backdrop of the backlash going on in the USA over the UK’s decision to free Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, the Libyan intelligence official who was held responsible for the 1988 Lockerbie bombings which killed 270 people, including 189 Americans, on compassionate grounds as al- Megrahi is believed to be suffering from terminal stages of colon cancer with about 3 months left to live.
A series of leaked letters between UK government officials indicates that Gordon Brown was pushing his release to curry favour with the Libyan government to secure the exact same oil deals as Berlusconi. If we put all of this in context, each government is applying some sort of leverage to secure these lucrative deals.
This really should not surprise anyone as way back in 1983, Donald Rumsfeld cut a deal with Saddam Hussein over an oil pipeline in lieu of Ronald Reagan’s blind eye to the chemical weapons program that led to the massacre of thousands of Kurds and Iranians. All the glad handing led to two later wars and thousands of US soldiers and civilian lives lost. Hundreds of British paid with their lives too.
What makes a sale of Milan possible is that none of Berlusconi’s children know how to run the club and its business. Whether it is finally sold of to Gaddafi and renamed Al Maghreb might not be the point. Berlusconi and his company Fininvest might slowly start to disinvest from the club. That remains a strong likelihood.