Gazidis uses ‘yacht race’ analogy to explain Milan’s plan to catch up with ‘giant clubs’

AC Milan CEO Ivan Gazidis believes that the positive path undertaken in the past two and a half years is a big driver behind RedBird Capital’s interest and eventual takeover.

Gazidis spoke during an interview with The Athletic during which he recalled his emotions after the league title win, and admitted to feeling a little worse for wear having flown back from his son’s graduation in the United States on the Saturday to be in Reggio Emilia for the Scudetto-clinching win over Sassuolo.

“I didn’t sleep on the plane and last night obviously went late so I’m not in the best shape. So you got to help me out a bit,” he joked.

Milan officially confirmed RedBird’s takeover of the club after Elliott decided to sell the majority of their shares. The club announced the highly-anticipated deal on Twitter and their website last Wednesday.

“The people that are interested in the club are interested in it, because of what’s been done. This is not a club where somebody is going to come in and say: ‘Listen, we need a radical change of direction’. Frankly, that would be crazy,” Gazidis said.

The challenge that Milan face is bridging the gap with the ‘elite’ in Europe, which is the clubs who are not just strong from a sporting perspective but have also left a lot of the continent behind in terms of the revenues they make and what they can afford.

“These giant clubs are not little speedboats or jet skis that you can turn on a dime. They’re supertankers that can get stuck in the Suez Canal. Manchester United, for instance, bear an eerie resemblance to the Ever Given,” Gazidis said.

“There’s the analogy of a yacht race, and the boat in front of you is ahead of you. If you follow and take all the same tacks and turns, you’re not going to catch up. Different ideas are needed to compete in that environment.

“The difficulty, especially in such a high-pressure sport like football at the top level is not the formulation of a plan, it is the execution. The obstacles are not intellectual obstacles but emotional obstacles along the way.

“The pressure is so intense to think short-term, to imagine there are shortcuts and instant solutions that it’s actually very difficult to stick to the plan that you know intellectually is the right one. You need a lot of strength and unity inside the club to be able to do that.

“Tension and pressure means units are difficult to maintain but we managed to do it and I really think that internal strength, that common purpose and understanding of how we are going to do things is really, in the end, what enabled us to deliver on the plan we set out.”

Milan were not among the favorites to win the league this season as the bookmakers had Inter and Juventus ahead of them, but through the collective effort of the group, the development of young players, the impact of experience and a calm tactician like Stefano Pioli steering the ship, they were able to secure a 19th Scudetto.

“We were told this was a young team and the reason they were successful was because the stadiums were empty,” Gazidis recalls.

“There are at least 20 incredible stories here. Every one of them involves an arc through skepticism towards redemption. It’s difficult after a Scudetto-winning season to set goals to improve but that’s what we need to do.”

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