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
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
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
As a manager, he coached Barcelona to four Spanish league
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
”We are making a profit, we are investing in the youth academy
– look at the first team, look at the Dutch team,” he said.