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Dec 10, 2012

Milan fans told big-spending days are over

Barbara Berlusconi has said AC Milan must convince fans unhappy with the sale of prize assets Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva last summer that the club needs to follow a financially prudent path.

Milan's gates are down by around 20% on last season, a result of supporters' anger at the sale of the duo to Paris Saint-Germain in a combined €62 million deal.

Berlusconi, the 28-year-old daughter of club owner Silvio Berlusconi, told L'Equipe: "I understand them. They live football in the moment.

"The fans are our most important clients. We have to make them understand that the road we're going down today is the only possible one, and is the one that gives them the most guarantees.

"We've given up Ibrahimovic, but in [Stephan] El Shaarawy we have found a talented youngster who perfectly embodies what the club stands for."

Berlusconi, Milan's special projects director, added: "The players have to understand for which club they're playing.

"The club also has to look at which kind of player they're buying, and not just choose them for their qualities on the pitch. The image and the values of the club are also part of the global strategy."

She made it plain that Milan's days of lavishing big money on transfer fees and wages were over, saying: "Football clubs are businesses like any other, and they cannot go on building up debt. The club has to be able to survive on its own resources.

"Bayern Munich are the model. They have that autonomy, have excellent revenue, make a profit, and play at the highest level every season."

She said it remained "essential to win titles at Milan" and that the club would seek to emulate Barcelona in bringing players through the youth system.

She would not be drawn on the future of coach Massimiliano Allegri, with Pep Guardiola having been linked with the role.

"We haven't started thinking about that yet," she said. "But if an opportunity arises which fits the club's project, it would be welcomed."

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