The New York Yankees and the Los Angeles-based fund that includes LeBron James are investing in AC Milan alongside RedBird Capital Partners, which is nearing a deal to purchase the Italian soccer champion for €1.2-billion (US$1.2-billion), the Financial Times reported on Tuesday.
Gerry Cardinale, the founder and managing partner of RedBird, announced a preliminary agreement in June to purchase Milan from fellow American firm Elliott Management, with the closing scheduled by September.
Officials close to RedBird would not comment on the latest report when contacted by the Associated Press but said an announcement will be coming in the next couple of days. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the final deal has not been announced yet.
Milan, a seven-time European champion, is coming off its first Italian title in 11 years.
The Yankees, the 27-time World Series champions, are already involved in soccer as co-owners with Manchester City of New York City FC in Major League Soccer. New York City FC plays some of its home games at Yankee Stadium.
Main Street Advisors, the fund supported by James, also counts the rapper Drake among its partners, as well as English Premier League club Liverpool and the Boston Red Sox.
James and Drake will be passive investors in Milan through the fund and have not taken direct stakes, the newspaper reported.
RedBird also has a stake in Fenway Sports Group, which owns Liverpool and the Red Sox. Champions League rules prohibit two clubs in the competition being under the same ownership to protect the integrity of games on the field. UEFA will likely have to make a judgment on the extent of RedBird’s influence on decision-making at Liverpool.
RedBird is set to become Milan’s fourth owner in five years.
Elliott has owned Milan since 2018 after the club’s former Chinese owner failed to repay part of a loan. Former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi controlled Milan for more than 30 years before selling to the Chinese group in 2017.
Inter Milan, Roma, Fiorentina and Bologna are among other foreign-owned teams in Serie A.
Having previously failed to qualify for Europe’s elite competition for seven consecutive years – that included a one-year UEFA ban for breaking financial monitoring rules – Milan is playing in the Champions League for a second consecutive season. That can earn the club about €100-million (US$100-million) in UEFA prize money and help restore the club’s global brand.
Milan’s team includes 40-year-old Zlatan Ibrahimovic and fellow striker Olivier Giroud.