Berlusconi admits AC Milan sale is essential in heartfelt letter to fans
Silvio Berlusconi has admitted that selling AC Milan was essential to the club's chances of returning to the summit of European football.
The 80-year-old's holding company Fininvest announced on Thursday that an agreement had at last been finalised for the sale of a 99.9 per cent stake of the club to Rossoneri Sport Investment Lux.
The Chinese consortium has paid a total of EUR740million to acquire the club and has made assurances that it will invest heavily to bolster Milan's "financial structure", Fininvest said in a statement.
The deal brings Berlusconi's 31-year spell as Milan president to an end and, although he conceded that the announcement was made with "pain and emotion", he believes it to be an essential step on the road towards restoring Milan's place on the global stage.
In an open letter to fans posted on the club's official website, he said: "After more than 30 years, I leave the position of president of AC Milan.
"I do so with pain and emotion but with the knowledge that, in the modern game, to compete at the highest level in Europe and the world requires investment and resources a single family can no longer support.
"I will never forget the emotions that Milan have given to us all. I'll never forget all the people who are to thank for my being able to preside over this club which has won so much.
"First of all, of course, are the great coaches and champions who made possible these feats that will stay forever in football history.
"The same hug goes to all of those who, in directorial, technical, administrative and media roles, have made Milan not just a team but a model club in world football.
29 - AC Milan have won 29 trophies in the Berlusconi era, including 5 European Cups/Champions League. Closing. pic.twitter.com/6gykQopqNW-- OptaPaolo (@OptaPaolo) April 13, 2017
"Among these people, the first to be mentioned is [CEO] Adriano Galliani, who was the indefatigable builder and engine of our Milan.
"But above all, my thanks from the bottom of my heart go out to our fans. To the millions who filled stadiums around the world to shout 'Forza Milan' and the many others that, despite being physically far away, have been close to us in sympathy and enthusiasm.
"Without them, our winning Milan wouldn't exist and never would have existed. With them, we won everything we could win. I will remain first and foremost a Milan fan: the team my father taught me to love as a child.
"To the new leaders I send the most cordial good wishes and I hope they can achieve objectives even more extraordinary than we did.
"To those who remain, from the players, the coach, and the employees of the club to all of our fans, I express the most affectionate wishes for great success, and I hope every one of them can achieve every one of the dreams they hold in sport and in life."