Ajax directors quit amid conflict with Cruyff

Ajax’s board of directors tendered its resignation amid a bitter

disagreement with club icon Johan Cruyff about how to return the

former European champion to its glory days.

Club chairman Uri Coronel said he and the two other directors of

the club will remain in place until replacements can be found,

adding Wednesday that ”Cruyff is more important than us.”

Ajax is currently in third place in the Dutch league, which it

has not won since 2004. It had asked Cruyff, who helped turn the

club into a European powerhouse in the 1970s, to form an advisory

panel to improve its performance.

But the club’s chief executive Rik van den Boog refused to carry

out all of Cruyff’s recommendations, which reportedly included

firing some longtime employees.

Coronel said he backed Van den Boog, and hoped his own

resignation would help break the impasse.

”This process, especially the continuing unrest around the

club, is extraordinarily damaging for Ajax,” he said at a news

conference.

The standoff could lead to an extraordinary general meeting of

club members at which Cruyff’s influence and recommendations would

either be decisively endorsed or rejected in the election of a new

board.

Arriving at the club Wednesday night, Cruyff said he was

surprised by the board’s decision, but did not know whether it

would help him push through his reforms.

”What’s an advantage, what’s a disadvantage?” he said.

Under Ajax’s complicated organizational structure, around 650

Ajax Union members elect a council of 24, who in turn name the

directors. Those directors also serve as members of the supervisory

board of AFC Ajax NV, the stock market-listed company that arranges

Ajax’s finances and appoints day-to-day executives such as Van den

Boog. Coronel and the four other members of AFC Ajax NV’s

supervisory board also tendered their resignations Wednesday.

Among an impressive list of titles, Ajax has won the Dutch

league a record 29 times and is a four-time European champion, from

1971-73 and again in 1995.

After leaving Ajax, Cruyff joined Barcelona in 1974 and led it

from the middle of the table to its first national title in a

decade.

As a manager, he coached Barcelona to four Spanish league

trophies.

Among his recent ideas to strengthen Ajax, Cruyff proposed

bringing together former players Dennis Bergkamp and Wim Jonk as

technical advisers to coach Frank de Boer.

That would mean replacing De Boer’s current assistant, Danny

Blind – another former Ajax star.

Coronel said the board insisted it has the last word on hiring

and firing staff, leading to the standoff with Cruyff.

He conceded the club needs to improve, but also defended its

recent record.

”We are making a profit, we are investing in the youth academy

– look at the first team, look at the Dutch team,” he said.