AC Milan have ended their sponsorship deal with adidas after almost two decades, the Italian Serie A club confirmed Tuesday.
The German sportswear giants had agreed a new 10-year deal worth over 200 million euros ($235 million) in 2013. The partnership began in 1998.
“AC Milan has mutually agreed with adidas to prematurely terminate their technical sponsorship deal at the end of the season 2017/2018,” the club said in a statement.
The seven-time European champions have not finished higher than sixth in any of the last four seasons in Serie A but an ambitious close-season recruitment drive saw them splash some €230 million euros ($270 million) on new signings under new Chinese owner Li Yonghong.
He paid €740 million to buy the club last April from former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.
The northern Italian side are reported to have reached a new agreement for less money with adidas’ German rivals Puma.
Berlusconi, meanwhile, claimed that his former club were in financial difficulty.
“I knew AC Milan have financial problems and I am worried about the silence of Mr Li,” Berlusconi told Telelombardia.
“Whoever would buy the club next would pay less than the club’s value but will also have to pay debts for several years, influencing the growth of the club, that’s not a nice perspective.”
Berlusconi spent over 30 years as Milan president, leading the club to great success.
But despite their recent spending spree they are languishing in the bottom half of Serie A, already nine points adrift of the top four.
Meanwhile, Puma reported on Tuesday leaping profits in the third quarter after celebrity tie-ins from partners like Rihanna and Usain Bolt fired sales.
Net profit reached €62 million ($73 million) between July and September, 57 per cent higher than the same period last year, the Bavaria-based firm reported.
The result comfortably outperformed predictions from analysts surveyed by financial data firm Factset. Puma’s performance was even stronger over the first nine months, with net profit doubling compared with last year to €134 million.
The firm with the pouncing cat logo released some third-quarter results early last week, saying surging revenues and profits prompted it to increase its forecast for the full year.
Puma now expects to make between 235 and 245 million euros in operating profit this year, almost double 2016’s figure.
Revenues at the firm swelled in the past three months, juiced by Bolt’s final competition appearances at the IAAF world championships in London and Rihanna’s fourth puma collaboration dazzling crowds at New York Fashion Week.
Puma, a subsidiary of sports and luxury group Kering, also partnered with US singer and actress Selena Gomez in the third quarter.
Mauro Icardi plundered a hat-trick to pile the pressure on AC Milan boss Vincenzo Montella as Inter Milan came out on top in a thrilling Derby della Madonnina.
The Argentina international striker converted a controversial 90th-minute penalty after Ricardo Rodriguez was adjudged to have pulled back Danilo D’Ambrosio to snatch a 3-2 victory at the San Siro.
Icardi put the home side ahead with a deft 28th-minute finish and then after Suso had levelled with an equally adept finish, dispatched an improvised 63rd-minute volley.
Montella’s men thought they had claimed a point when keeper Samir Handanovic could only carry Giacomo Bonaventura’s 81st-minute shot into his own net, but Icardi’s late heroics condemned them to a fourth Serie A defeat of the new campaign which leaves them 10 points adrift of their city rivals.
Inter enjoyed the better start and Antonio Candreva was unfortunate not to open the scoring with 13 minutes gone when he ran on to Borja Valero’s pass and stabbed a shot against the crossbar with keeper Gianluigi Donnarumma beaten.
Milan gradually worked their way into the game as Inter central defender Miranda found himself under pressure, although it was he who went close at the other end with a header from Ivan Perisic’s cross which dropped just wide after Valero’s 23rd-minute free-kick had been only half-cleared.
But the home side forced their way in front five minutes later when Icardi got ahead of defender Mateo Musacchio to guide Candreva’s cross inside the far post.
Donnarumma was relieved to grasp a skidding Icardi long-range effort to his chest nine minutes before the break, but opposite number Handanovic had to get down smartly to block Fabio Borini’s shot at his near post in the final minute of the half.
Milan thought they were back in it within four minutes of the restart when Musacchio rifled the ball into the roof of the net after Andre Silva’s curling left-foot effort had come back off the post, only for an offside flag to cut their celebrations short.
Handanovic had to save from former Liverpool strikers Suso and Borini in quick succession and half-time substitute Patrick Cutrone guided Rodriguez’s whipped cross into the side-netting as the visitors sensed an opportunity.
They were back in it with 56 minutes gone when Suso curled a fine left-foot shot from distance into the bottom corner to level.
Matias Vecino should have restored Inter’s lead on the hour when he steered another inviting Candreva cross inches wide, but after a fine save by Handanovic denied Bonaventura at the other end, they did force their way in front once again.
Icardi had to adjust in mid-air as he met Perisic’s cross, but he did so perfectly to volley into the far corner, although the drama continued when Handanovic could only carry the ball over his own line as he attempted to claw away Bonaventura’s shot.
But there was still more to come at the death when Rodriguez impeded D’Ambrosio in the area and Icardi stepped up to score from the spot.
Internazionale icon Ivan Cordoba expects the sleeping Italian giants to once again become a force of European football that saw them claim an historic treble of Serie A, Coppa Italia and Champions League in 2010.
Just seven short years have passed since combative Colombian Cordoba was an integral part of Jose Mourinho’s Nerazzurri side that swept all before them domestically – ending in the crowning glory of a third European Cup title and first in nearly half a century.
But the club has fallen into a downward spiral in the intervening years, just one more major title (Coppa Italia) lifted as Inter have not only lost their seat at Europe’s top table, but even Italy’s too.
Inter finished runners-up to city rivals AC Milan the year after the treble, but have endured finishes of sixth, ninth, fifth, eighth, fourth and seventh in the last six seasons, becoming irrelevant.
But they have begun the 2017/18 season well under former Roma coach Luciano Spalletti, sitting third, and new owners Suning invested heavily this summer, spending €20million on each of left-back Dalbert from Nice, centre-back Milan Skriniar from Sampdoria and midfielder Matías Vecino from Fiorentina.
And ahead of a mouthwatering clash with fierce rivals the Rossoneri at the San Siro Sunday, former defender Cordoba expects them to be back among Europe’s elite sooner rather than later.
“I think they will get back to the top and I hope they will,” said the 41-year-old, speaking at the official draw of the FIFA Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi last week.
“Because Inter is created to win. To achieve big success. But they are on their way to getting back to their best. They can be one of the best five or six teams in the world again.
“We have a good owner and directors and a good coach who knows the culture of the club and Italian football. I think Inter will be much better this year.”
In that treble-winning season seven years ago, Cordoba also collected a FIFA Club World Cup medal. And when he was asked what the success that year was down to, Cordoba said then coach Mourinho.
“The manager. He’s been around the world and he used his skills to improve the team, their level,” said Cordoba, who was at Inter for 12 years between 2000-12.
“He knows everything about his players. Everything. Then he can control the mentality of each player. He has this skill where he can recognise the best moment of one player, when they can play their best for the team – mentally and physically.
“It’s difficult to do that. You can train to be like Mourinho but you can’t manage like Mourinho.”
Cordoba, who earned 73 caps for Colombia, won five Scudettos and four Coppa Italias with Inter, and revealed the treble-winning campaign was the highlight of his career.
“I think yes, because in that moment it was a big moment for us. You must to well and your best to win so many trophies. And in that moment nothing else mattered,” he said.