MILAN: After a family link going back more than 60 years, the Moratti connection with former world, European and Italian champions Internazionale has been severed following a Chinese takeover.

Under what is a ground-breaking development in Italian football the Chinese retail, property and media group Suning has taken a majority stake in the Nerazzurri. 

Indonesian businessman Erick Thohir, who bought a controlling stake in 2014, will remain as president but former president Massimo Moratti steps away from Inter altogether.

The only remaining connection will be the Piazzale Moratti area on the north side of the Stadio Meazza at San Siro which Inter share with AC Milan.

Inter’s greatest years were in the mid-1960s under the leadership of oil tycoon Angelo Moratti. He was president between 1955 and 1968 when Inter, under coach Helenio Herrera, won the world and European club titles each twice.

Son Massimo Morattiu was president between 1995 and 2004 and then again from 2006 to 2013 when he negotiated the club’s sale.

Thohir, seeking to reassure fans worried about ownership uncertainty, said: “This new partnership with Suning Holdings Group is a game changer for Inter Milan.

“Over the past two and a half years we have been building on the existing solid base at the Club and this new partnership will enable us to take the next step in the project and return Inter Milan to its rightful place in world club football.

“The popularity of the game, particularly in Asia and China, is going through a period of massive growth. This agreement with Suning Holdings Group will allow us to get much closer to our huge fan base in China and the Asia Pacific region. We are looking forward to a hugely successful partnership together.”

Asian projection

Suning has promised to step up projection of Inter in China and Asia.

Group chairman Zhang Jindong said: “The acquisition of Inter Milan is part of Suning’s strategy in the development of the sports industry and driving our campaign in the health and lifestyle consumer market.

“This will not only improve Jiangsu Suning F.C.’s technical set-up and operational capabilities, but will also help Suning to grow internationally, enabling us to become a household brand name in Europe and across the world.”

“China will become the second home of Inter Milan. In addition, Suning’s capital investment and abundant resources will enable Inter Milan to return to its glory days and become a stronger property able to attract top stars from across the globe.”

Suning was founded in 1990 and now ranks among the top three Chinese non-state owned enterprises with close to $50bn in annual sales and more than 1,600 chain stores in 600 cities in China, Hong Kong and Japan.

Inter’s roll of honour includes 18 Italian league titles, seven cups, five Supercups, three UEFA Cups, three European Champions trophies and three world club cups.

They are one of the seven teams to have secured the treble of Champions League, national championship and cup – in the same year (2010), and the only Italian club never to have been relegated in their 108-year history.