AC Milan played Cagliari on Saturday night in front of a nearly empty San Siro, following the Curva Sud’s call to boycott matches and official team merchandise. Even avoiding any events held at the new Casa Milan throughout the weekend. The intention is to leave the club completely alone, just as its fans have all too often felt in recent years.
A fan base that is used to seeing the most successful 25 years in football history will inevitably see a reduction in attendance when the results begin to falter. However, in the case of Milan, this can’t be the whole story. After all, the Rossoneri had spells in the second division during the 70’s and 80’s and 50-60,000 fans still regularly turned up.
Years of stadium arrests, rising ticket prices, and the banning of drums, megaphones and flares from Italian stadiums have taken away from the match-day experience. Milan’s fall from grace has been punctuated by an unclear policy from the club’s administration. In the last 6 to 7 years, AC Milan has taken on managers and player transfers with seemingly no direction. Berlusconi’s cash reserves aren’t what they used to be, and rumours have arisen, ranging from him selling the club, to selling off a portion of it, all the way down to keeping it and handing control over to his daughter.
Today more than ever, the Rossoneri faithful are showing their unity. They have brought their complaints out of the bars and internet blogs, and are showing exactly how much people are hurt by this situation. This is the last appeal from the Curva Milan Club, to club president Berlusconi. He is the only person at this point who can clarify what the future has in store for the club. If he is unwilling to respond they will have no choice but to mount a strong opposition.
No one knows what the future has in store for the red and blacks. Many fans would be willing to return to the grounds so long as the club can give them an idea of how exactly they plan to develop. But for now, the idea of dedicating their weekends to a team that is overfunded and underperforming, with a management who feels no responsibility to keep them involved is simply unacceptable.
The protest that took place this past weekend at the San Siro was just another instance of fans standing up for themselves. Taking action against a management team that feels they no longer need to be taken into consideration as they have no actual financial stake in the club. Perhaps they have forgotten the emotional stake that fans hold, which is the very thing that made Milan great in the past.