AC Milan's Europa League ban over FFP breach overturned by CAS
AC Milan have been reinstated into the Europa League next season after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) overturned UEFA's decision to exclude them for infringing financial fair play (FFP) rules.
Following a hearing with the Italian club on Thursday, the CAS released a statement on Friday in which it said that while UEFA's decision to impose sanctions was correct, these needed to be more "proportionate" and exclusion was too severe.
The statement said that the CAS had "partially accepted Milan's appeal," adding that they "confirmed the part in which the Adjudicatory Chamber of UEFA established that Milan had failed to fulfil the break-even requirements," but added that "the Chamber's exclusion of Milan from the next UEFA competition ... is cancelled."
It added: "The case is referred back to the Adjudicatory Chamber of UEFA for the imposition of proportionate disciplinary sanctions."
Milan defender Leonardo Bonucci wrote on Twitter: "We've regained what we'd earned on the field."
Riconquistato ció che avevamo raggiunto sul campo.— Leonardo Bonucci (@bonucci_leo19) July 20, 2018
Punishments the Serie A club could still face range from a fine to squad limitation in Europe next season.
UEFA had questioned a business plan and figures Milan had presented to them amid uncertainty over the club's ownership.
Li Yonghong, who bought Milan from Silvio Berlusconi last year with the aid of a €303 million loan from Elliott Management, did not offer the required assurances to guarantee their financial future.
The Chinese businessman defaulted on a loan payment days after the decision to exclude Milan from the Europa League, leading to Elliott Advisors (UK) Limited taking full control.
It has been reported that their stronger financial standing helped Milan succeed in their appeal against UEFA's decision.
Elliott welcomed the decision as "an important first step" in the relaunching of the club.
"This rehabilitation will not be an overnight project, and there is a great deal of hard work ahead which Elliott is ready for," a spokeswoman said.
UEFA noted without comment that the case returns to the judging section of its club finance panel.
Milan qualified for the Europa League by finishing sixth in Serie A, and Friday's decision means they will be admitted to the group stage.
Fiorentina, who had been hoping to be admitted to the Europa League in the event of a Milan exclusion, will not participate in Europe next season.
Friday's decision enables Milan to plan for the coming season, with confirmed Europa League football meaning additional revenue.
On Sunday, coach Gennaro Gattuso takes his squad to the United States to participate in the International Champions Cup. They face Manchester United in Los Angeles, Tottenham Hotspur in Minnesota and Barcelona in Santa Clara, California.
Separately on Friday, Milan prosecutors have put Li under investigation for alleged false accounting, Reuters reported. The probe regards information the club had issued regarding the state of Li's finances.
Information from Reuters was used in this report.