Silvio Berlusconi would retain ownership of AC Milan if the Chinese consortium currently struggling to purchase the Serie A giants fails to complete the deal, his son Pier Silvio said.

“If the Chinese walk away, it wouldn’t be very pleasing to my father because selling the club is a very emotional experience for him,” Pier Silvio Berlusconi, a vice-president of AC Milan, told Italian radio.

“If that was the case, we would happily forge on ahead.”

Sino-Europe Sports (SES), led by mystery figure Yonghong Li, was scheduled Thursday to make a third down payment of 100m euros as part of a deal that values AC Milan at 740 million euros ($825.4 million).

Despite already making two separate down payments of 100m euros totalling 200m, there was growing speculation the takeover of one of Italy’s most successful and emblematic clubs could collapse.

Silvio Berlusconi has already given SES several extensions and reports from New York on Wednesday said key backer, Haixia Capital Management Co, has been forced to pull out amid a Chinese government clampdown on investments made outside the country.

After SES failed to meet a March 3 deadline for the takeover, Milan and SES were pilloried on social media with fans and rivals alike comparing the saga to Michael Ende’s ‘Never Ending Story’, which has been adapted to both film and theatre.

Berlusconi’s patience is reportedly wearing thin, although his son suggested that would be tempered by his father walking away with the down payments already made. As part of the agreement between Li and Berlusconi, the Italian media tycoon would retain SES’s deposits in the event the deal collapses.

“From an economic point of view it wouldn’t be damaging (for AC Milan) given the penalty, if we can call it that, is quite substantial,” added Pier Silvio.

“But the agreements and the down payments give me faith.”

If the takeover collapses, the 80-year-old Berlusconi is unlikely to put the club up for sale again, said his son: “I’m sure the deal will be completed. But if we don’t sell to the Chinese, there will be only one other owner: my father.”

Berlusconi has overseen the most successful period in the club’s history, Milan winning eight Serie A and five Champions League titles since he took over as president in 1986. – Agence France-Presse

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