For Viola fans languishing without news of the team during these slow summer months, this morning resulted in a bombshell announcement from UEFA: AC Milan are banned from the Europa League next season. The decision is still open to an appeal in the Court of Arbitration for Sport; the Rossoneri will obviously make their case as quickly as possible.
This is huge news for Serie A, as it means that Atalanta will slide up and enter the group stages without having to go through a potentially tricky playoff. More importantly, though, it means that Fiorentina will take la Dea’s spot in the penultimate qualifying round. The Viola will have to beat two teams to earn their spot in the group stage, although their sterling work in European competition over the past five years should earn them a berth in the first or second pot of the group stage draw should they make it that far.
The knock-on effect in the mercato could be massive as well. Milan could have trouble attracting talent without the lure of a continental tournament, especially as they’ll probably be unable to offer particularly high salaries, given that their suspension is due to Financial Fair Play violations. Conversely, Fiorentina now have a better chance to attract top-notch players hungering for an opportunity to strut their stuff in Europe. And the payout from a good Europa League run could persuade the Della Valles to open the pursestrings a bit and target some high-profile names. It could also keep the likes of Federico Chiesa in Florence for a bit longer, which would be pretty swell.
While it seems likely that Milan will appeal and get away with something more like a transfer ban a la Barcelona or Atletico Madrid, right now Fiorentina are back in Europe despite a late season meltdown. And that, friends, is a pretty good reason to be excited.