Football: Johor Crown Prince clarifies that he is not buying AC Milan

Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim, the Crown Prince of Johor, has said in a Facebook post on Sunday that although it is his dream to buy Italian club AC Milan, he wants to clarify that he does not have the money to acquire the Serie A side.
Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim, the Crown Prince of Johor, has said in a Facebook post on Sunday that although it is his dream to buy Italian club AC Milan, he wants to clarify that he does not have the money to acquire the Serie A side. ST PHOTO: JAMIE KOH

Johor Crown Prince (Tunku Mahkota Johor) Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim clarified in a Facebook post on Sunday that he is not buying Italian club AC Milan.

In an interview with The Sunday Times, Tunku Ismail, chairman of Malaysian club Johor Darul Takzim (JDT), had said he was "planning to buy" the 18-time Serie A winners and was in the "research and discussion" stage.

But, in a post on JDT's Facebook page on Sunday evening, Tunku Ismail clarified that owning the Rossoneri was "one of (his) dreams".

He said: "Recently I've been interviewed by The Straits Times Singapore regarding my accomplishments with JDT and other goals in life in general. I was also asked if I have any interest in buying a foreign club.

"My exact answer was yes. If I have to pick a club, it would have to be Milan. That's one of my dreams.

DREAM TEAM

If I have to pick a club, it would have to be Milan. That's one of my dreams. But it doesn't mean I'm going to buy it. It's just a club that I've adored since I was young. That's all. So to answer any speculations, the answer is No.

TUNKU ISMAIL SULTAN IBRAHIM, Johor Crown Prince, in a post on Johor Darul Takzim's Facebook page clarifying his stance on owning AC Milan.


BIG PLANS

I'm planning to buy AC Milan but we'll see how it goes. I love Milan, I have always loved Italian clubs since I was young.

TUNKU ISMAIL, in his interview with The Sunday Times last Wednesday.

"But it doesn't mean I'm going to buy it. It's just a club that I've adored since I was young. That's all.

"So to answer any speculations, the answer is No. I'm not buying Milan. I don't have money to buy Milan.

"I'm not rich like other Malaysian businessmen. I'm just a young man with a dream and big ambitions that's all.

"My club JDT can't even beat Kedah and other Malaysian teams. I'm not going to take Milan having to go head on with Juventus and other Italian giants. I simply dare not. My club is only JDT. A small club with big ambitions."

Milan are owned by former Italy prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, who has indicated his willingness to sell the debt-laden club.

Berlusconi is currently weighing up a reported €700 million (S$1.06 billion) offer from a Chinese consortium. Thai businessman Bee Taechaubol was also linked last year but talks had since stalled.

Last Wednesday, Tunku Ismail told The Sunday Times: "I'm planning to buy AC Milan but we'll see how it goes. I love Milan, I have always loved Italian clubs since I was young."

When asked how advanced talks were, he added: "In doing research and discussion (stage) but we'll see how it goes, I think the target is always JDT but if I can buy a club in Europe it'll be AC Milan.

"Hopefully we have the link with Milan and JDT in the future, who knows. And that will be direct collaboration, not just a very small collaboration. That will be very direct."

In the same interview, he added that he could partner some of his friends, including Singaporean billionaire Peter Lim and owner of Spanish side Valencia, to invest in European teams.

Speaking at the Istana Bukit Pelangi, Tunku Ismail had said: "Maybe (Peter and I) and some other friends who want to probably invest in some other European clubs. We'll see how it goes."

It is believed Tunku Ismail has been approached to buy some Spanish and English clubs in the past but no deal materialised.

While the latest development might disappoint fans hoping for a Milan-JDT tie-up, there is little doubt their club are in the right hands.

Since Tunku Ismail took over as chairman in 2012, the state has won two consecutive league titles in 2014 and 2015 - a significant feat considering their last notable success was the 1991 league and Malaysia Cup double.

Last year, they also became the first South-east Asian team to win the Asian Football Confederation Cup, Asia's second-tier club competition.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 26, 2016, with the headline 'Johor Crown Prince clarifies that he is not buying Milan'. Print Edition | Subscribe