AC Milan Owner Reportedly Bankrupt, Ordered to Auction off Assets

AC Milan

AC Milan owner Yonghong Li is reportedly bankrupt, initiating concerns about the solvency of the team’s ownership group and the status of the team’s star players. Li took out a high-interest loan to purchase the Serie A club from former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, a loan that he could only repay if the team were to return to the Champions League (for the first time since ’12). Currently residing in 7th place (just the Top 4 qualify) and unable to refinance the loan, the club may now be forced to sell off its star players to make loan payments. Reports indicate Li’s assets will be auctioned off on Taobao (BABA subsidiary), with decisions regarding the club’s future will likely be postponed until that occurs. It is unclear if AC Milan will even be considered among Li’s assets; the club is technically owned by Sino-Europe Sports, a holding company that Li maintains a stake in. It must be noted that Li has dismissed reports that he’s insolvent as “fake news.”

Howie Long-Short: Li (as part of a Chinese consortium) acquired the club in April ’17 for $911 million, with the help of a +/-$500 million high-interest loan from Elliott Management and +/-$400 million in off-shore assets; allowing him to take control of the franchise for less than $150 million in cash. For comparison purposes, NFL majority owners must pay at least 30% of the team’s purchase price (+/- $1 billion).

Fan Marino: If you think a U.S. professional sports franchise would never be sold to a prospective owner without the fiscal resources to support team operations, think again. In 1996, John Spano took controlling ownership (for 4 months) of the New York Islanders; acquiring the floundering franchise for $165 million. Spano, worth just several hundred thousand dollars at the time, convinced a series of banks (and league execs) that he had $230 million in assets to his name; enabling him to pull off the fraud. ESPN did a 30 for 30 called “Big Shot” on the story. It’s a must watch, here’s the trailer.

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Amazon Closes Event Ticketing Operation, May Relaunch with New Platform in 2019


Amazon (AMZN) has announced it will be closing its U.K. event ticketing operation (Amazon Tickets), less than 3 months after abandoning plans to launch in the United States; though, the company may be planning to relaunch in 2019 with new technology. Amazon’s open distribution model had some initial success in Europe (signed a partnership with AEG, launched a concert series), but the company’s inability to work out a partnership with Ticketmaster (in the U.S.) was its downfall. Speculation exists that AMZN is working on a new platform that would sync with both Echo and Firestick devices and use AI-powered Alexa to locate tickets.

Howie Long-Short: If you’re looking for “underdogs” that could potentially take on Ticketmaster (LYV), look at Alibaba subsidiaries Tao Piao Piao and Tao Piao Piao, an online ticketer, was formed out of a partnership between Alibaba (BABA) and in May 2016; BABA has since increased its stake in Tao Piao Piao to 96.7%. In March 2017, Jack Ma’s e-commerce giant acquired the ticketing agency for an undisclosed sum (BABA a minority investor since ‘14). The Alibaba Pictures Group (the entertainment sector of BABA) reported in September, that H1 ‘17 revenue increased 313% YOY (to $165 million); attributing the growth to increased contributions from Tao Piao Piao.

Fan Marino: Here’s to hoping AMZN re-enters the ticketing space; they intended on cutting the service and processing fees for Prime members, a change that would have resulted in a savings of +/- $15 for every $100 ticket purchased.

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Discovery Communications to Launch “Netflix for Sports” For ’18 Winter Games


Discovery Communications (DISCA) controls the exclusive rights to broadcast the 2018 Winter Olympics (+ the ’20, ’22 and ’24 Games in Paris) across Europe (excluding Russia) and will use the Pyeongchang Games to introduce a new interactive streaming platform that has been described as Europe’s “Netflix for sports”. Eurosport Player will offer fans of the Olympics the ability to watch “every minute, every athlete and every sport, live and on-demand”; enabling the company to aggregate a wide variety of viewing data (across all platforms, both live and catch-up), as it works towards the launch of a DTC subscription service for “superfans” of niche sports. DISCA will air the ’18 Games on linear television, across the continent (50 countries), on its Eurosport (think ESPN) channel.

Howie Long-Short: In 2015, DISCA paid $1.6 billion for the next 4 Olympic Games (including $180 million for the ’18 Games), but company CFO Gunnar Wiedenfels says the games won’t impact full-year profits; lucrative content licensing agreements (i.e. BBC, Amazon in select countries) have already helped the company recoup much of its commitment. Of course, DISCA is on the hook for just a fraction of the $7.65 billion NBC agreed to pay for U.S. TV and online rights through ’32.

Fan Marino: Alibaba (BABA) has launched its first “major branding effort” with the Olympic games (part of a 10-year partnership), a 3-ad story-telling campaign meant to showcase the company globally. While one ad focuses on the company’s values and history championing small businesses, the other 2 convey true Olympic tales; one of a rower who stopped in the middle of a race to let ducks pass and another of a Kenyan Ice Hockey team that had previously never experienced ice. Get your tissue boxes ready.

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Juventus Building a Global Brand

Juventus Football Club (JVTSF) is looking to build its brand internationally, authorizing the sale of licensed team products in Japan, China and Australia. The Serie A champions are introducing several new product categories as part of the global expansion, including bespoke leisurewear, an exclusive luggage collection and car accessories. All products will be available on e-commerce platforms, like, and within select brick and mortar retailers within each region.

Howie Long-Short: is a subsidiary of the Chinese corporation Vipshop, which trades on the NYSE under the symbol VIPS. VIPS shares are up 42% since news broke Sunday evening that Tencent Holdings (OTC: TCEHY) and (JD) are investing $863 million in to the company. TCEHY is putting up $604 million for a 7% stake, while JD spends $259 million for a 5.5% stake. The companies paid a 55% premium for the shares, in what is being perceived as an aggressive attempt to defend against BABA.

Fan Marino: President Andrea Angelli had the one-year ban for his role in a mafia related ticketing scandal lifted, but Italian Football Federation doubled the club’s fine (to $710,000) and will force the team to play its January 22nd match vs. Genoa, with one of the stadium’s main sections closed. Losing the advantage of a rowdy home atmosphere could alter the league’s final standings. The club currently sits one point behind 1st Place Napoli and one point ahead of 3rd Place Inter Milan.

Juventus introduces licensed products in Asia and Australia as part of global expansion

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Nets Owner Sells 49% of Franchise at $2.3 Billion Valuation

Brooklyn Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov has agreed to sell 49% of the NBA franchise to Alibaba (BABA) co-founder, Joseph Tsai; with Tsai receiving the option to purchase controlling interest in the franchise in 2021. Prokhorov will remain the operating owner for the next 4 years, while Tsai will not maintain any role on the business or basketball side of the franchise during that time. The deal does not include the Barclays Center, which has an estimated value of $1 billion.

Howie Long-Short: Tsai acquired the Nets at a $2.3 billion valuation, eclipsing the NBA record $2.2 billion that Tilman Fertitta paid for the Houston Rockets. The Nets lost $23.5 million last season (2nd most in NBA, beyond only Detroit), while generating a league lows from its local TV contact. There is simply no way the Nets are worth $2.3 billion. The last NFL team sold was Buffalo, for $1.4 billion in 2014. The NFL generated around $11 billion in revenue during the 2014 season. The NBA generated roughly $8 billion last year. How could NBA teams be worth over a billion dollars more, when the league generates less revenue and pays out a higher percentage to their players?

Fan Marino: Sports fans want 3 things from the owner of their favorite team; a passion to win, a willingness to spend and to stay out of player personnel decisions. Based on that criteria, Prokhorov has been a tremendous owner for the Nets. As a Nets fan though, I’ll never forgive him for hiring Billy King, signing off on one of the worst deals in professional sports history and moving the franchise from New Jersey.

Joseph Tsai agrees to purchase 49 percent minority stake in Nets, sources say

Editor Note: The summary for this story was written by our friends at The Water Coolest. Check out for the latest market news and professional advice.

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Lululemon (LULU) CEO Laurent Potdevin remains bullish on the future of brick and mortar retail, saying “people don’t want to be stuck on their phone” and those that seek “mindful lifestyles continue to crave human connections”. The company employs 10,000 “educators” to develop those connections within in their 421 stores and an additional 2,500 “brand ambassadors” worldwide to foster human engagement. Potdevin points out that Lululemon should not be grouped with other struggling athleisure apparel companies, as the brand does not sell footwear and controls its fleet of stores (competitors tend to be wholesale companies).

Howie Long-Short: Yoga’s popularity in China is growing and Lululemon is cashing in with sales in the country up 350% YOY. LULU, who has an exclusive partnership with Tmall (BABA), China’s largest B2C e-commerce platform, saw a 100%+ increase in traffic and higher conversion rates lead to a 175% YOY increase in sales on the platform. Rapid growth within the Asian market puts the company’s $4 billion revenue target for 2020 in sight.

Fan Marino: Speaking of footwear, NBA MVP Russell Westbrook is the new face of Jordan Brand (NKE). Westbrook signed a 10-year deal that will make him the highest paid endorser in the history of the company. Westbrook will also get his own signature shoe line. While financial terms of the deal were not released, Westbrook shouldn’t be short on cash. He recently signed the richest deal in NBA history, a 5 year $205 million extension with Oklahoma City.

Lululemon CEO: Retail isn’t dead because people ‘crave human connections’


Alibaba (BABA) Digital Media and Entertainment Group has announced the acquisition of mobile gaming company Ejoy and its plans to launch a new games division; just 6 months after laying out plans for a $145 million venture into mobile gaming distribution. The new division will develop its own titles and leverage the resources of BABA sister platforms, like online videos and movies, to push its way in to the world’s largest gaming market. The Chinese online gaming industry was last estimated to be worth $11.8 billion and is expected to grow to $27.5 billion by the end 2017.

Howie Long-Short: While late to the game, Alibaba is not new to the gaming sector. In 2014, the company made a $120 million investment into mobile gaming co. Kabam, the developer behind Marvel: Contest of Champions and Kingdoms of Camelot. The expected growth within the industry certainly provides BABA the opportunity to carve out market share, but they have some ground to make up; competitors Tencent (OTC: TCEHY) and NetEase (NTES) currently bring in 70% (41.2% and 28.5% respectively) of all Chinese online gaming revenues collected. It is worth noting that online gaming revenues accounted for 47% of TCEHY’s 2016 total revenue.

Fan Marino: Retired gamers and nostalgia junkies spent last weekend on their couches, as Nintendo re-released its classic Super NES system on Friday September 29th. The console, originally released in November 1990, includes 21 games including classics; “Super Mario World” and “Yoshi’s Island”. The biggest complaint I’m hearing about the re-released version? The controller wires are still too short! The more things change, the more things stay the same.

Alibaba Is Making Bold Moves in Online Gaming With Newest Acquisition