MILAN: A Chinese consortium will pay €740m to buy 99.93 percent of AC Milan club shares..

Under a preliminary agreement with president Silvio Berlusconi, Chinese investors headed by Li Yonghog, chairman of Sino-Europe Investment Management company, will pay €740m which includes assuming the €220m debt.

A source close to the negotiations said: “We have been negotiating with [Milan owner] Fininvest for a long time, it was really hard. Our plan almost went flat several times but we were determined to carry on until the end.”

The Chinese team’s lawyers worked out the details of the agreement on Wednesday night and sent it to Berlusconi for approval.

The former Italian Prime Minister, who has been rumored to sell his club several times, made up his mind and on Friday called the Chinese side to his villa in Sardinia where they signed the agreement.

Fininvest said the agreement was signed by managing director Danilo Pellegrino and would be finalised by the end of 2016.

With the signing, the Chinese purchasers committed to “carry out relevant capital increases and financial injections for a total amount of €350m over a period of three years.”

“The Chinese consortium included Haixa Capital, the State Development and Investment Corporation (SDIC), and Yonghong Li, Chairman of the management company and main sponsor of the investor group, with whom Fininvest has been negotiating for some time until today’s signing,” Fininvest also stated.

With the takeover, both Milan giants now have Chinese ownership after electronics retailver Suning Commerce Co Ltd bought 68.55pc of Internazionale for €270m in early June.

Italian media saw it as a dramatic shift in Italian football.

Italy’s main sport newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport said: “Under Berlusconi’s leadership since 1986 the club have won 28 competitions, signed 10 Golden Ball (winners), and played spectacular football in Italy and Europe.”

It reported that the purchasers represent a different group of Chinese investors to those who had started negotiations.

The original group was split over Milan governance and “three of the investors preferred to take a separate path by creating the vehicle called Sino-Europe Investment Management Changxing.”

La Repubblica reported: “This is the sign of a sea change in our football, and the end of an era in which Italian clubs managed to survive, and even win in Europe, by their own means only. Clearly, this is no longer possible.”