The ultimate consolation prize for Berlusconi?

Updated: 2011-11-14 07:57

(China Daily)

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The ultimate consolation prize for Berlusconi?

Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi holds a glass of wine at San Siro stadium in Milan in this Sept 28, 2008 file photo. [Photo/Agencies]

ROME - After Silvio Berlusconi's resignation as Prime Minister of Italy, AC Milan fans are hopeful the billionaire tycoon might take back the reins of his beloved soccer club and lead it to victory next year.

In an interview before stepping down as prime minister, the 75-year-old said, "Maybe I'll be the president of AC Milan again" - a position he was forced to give up due to a conflict of interests after winning the 2008 election.

His statement set fan sites abuzz. "Finally!" read several comments on one forum, with one fan saying: "It's what he's best at!"

"Berlusconi give up on Italy and come and help Milan rise to the top before they take you away in handcuffs," said another fan with a reference to Berlusconi's legal woes - he is currently a defendant in three trials.

For a head of government with an outsized ego - he once declared himself "the best prime minister Italy has ever had" - AC Milan may be just the place.

The club, which has won five Champions League titles, claims to be "the most victorious in the world", and fans are hoping for a new victory in 2012.

Fans are looking for some big-name buys, which were common under the media and construction magnate, who has owned the club for 26 years.

Berlusconi (pictured) last year admitted he could not afford Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo - who was worth 92 million euros ($126 million) under his latest transfer from Manchester United to Real.

But there are rumors circulating within Berlusconi's Mediaset business empire that the tycoon could inject fresh capital in January into a club that he has constantly called "close to my heart."

A sign of that proximity is that Berlusconi's 27-year-old daughter Barbara was appointed to AC Milan's board last year. She is also romantically linked to the team's striker, Brazil's 21-year-old Pato.

Since Berlusconi gave up the presidency of the club, his lieutenant, Adriano Galliani, has been in charge with the title of "general administrator".

Asked in recent days about the prospects for Berlusconi's imminent return, Galliani said: "It's up to him to decide," hinting he would gladly give up his post to the ex-prime minister.

It would be a nostalgic return for Berlusconi, whose winning smile was a feature of Italy's football championship in the 1980s before he launched himself into politics in the early 1990s with a party named after a football chant: "Forza Italia" ("Go Italy").

Agence France-Presse