Bidding to reclaim its position as one of Europe’s top clubs, leading Italian team AC Milan has turned to the English Premier League and recruited Ivan Gazidis as its new chief executive officer.
Gazidis is set to begin his new role on December 1, bringing his 10-year association with Arsenal to an end.
The 54-year-old, who was born in South Africa, said it was the “hardest decision of my life” but insisted it was the right time for both parties.
“For the last 10 years I have been privileged to dedicate myself to this great club. Arsenal is entering a new chapter and I have done everything I can to ensure that it is strongly placed to take on that challenge,” said Gazidis.
‘Strange’ time to leave
“I know many will think this is a strange time to be leaving but I believe it is the right time for me and for the club. Change and succession is not only inevitable for a club like Arsenal – it is necessary.”
“I am now looking forward to joining one of the world’s other great clubs, and working to restore it to its rightful place in football.”
Gazidis, who was influential in replacing Arsene Wenger with new boss Unai Emery in May, is set to fulfill a similar role at the Serie A side when he officially leaves Arsenal at the end of October.
His departure will also mark a structural change at the Premier League club.
The current head of football relations Raul Sanllehi will become the new head of football. Meanwhile, chief commercial officer Vinai Venkatesham will be the new managing director.
Milan ‘can’t wait’ to get started
The Italian side, currently 13th in Serie A, announced that they were pleased Gazidis had accepted their offer.
“AC Milan brings on board a world-class football executive with a track record of sporting and commercial success across the globe,” an official statement wrote.
AC Milan’s Executive Chairman Paolo Scaroni will hand over all CEO duties to Gazidis and said he was proud of the new appointment.
“Ivan Gazidis will bring an unparalleled level of business acumen and football industry experience to the club.”
“He helped establish professional football in the United States; he brought Arsenal to new heights; and we can’t wait for him to get started here in Milan. The fundamentals are now in place for success, which we recognise will take time, hard work, and perseverance.”
In July, Elliott Management took control of the Italian club after Chinese businessman Yonghong Li, who last year had bought AC Milan from former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, was unable to honor a repayment that was due to the US fund.