Europe news

Dutch legend Cruyff causes Ajax schism

March 30, 2011
By ESPNsoccernet staff

The Ajax board of directors has tendered its resignation after becoming concerned with the working relationship with club hero Johan Cruyff.

Johan Cruyff
GettyImagesJohan Cruyff is regarded as the greatest Dutch player of all time

Cruyff, 63, won eight Eredivisie titles and three European Cups with Ajax as a player over two spells, before also coaching the club to the 1987 European Cup Winners' Cup crown.

The Netherlands legend returned to the club in an advisory capacity in February and met with the club's board last week and advised them organisational and personnel changes were needed if the Amsterdammers were to return to their former glories.

But the board of directors and chief executive Rik van den Boog , were not willing to implement all of his suggestions.

Chairman Uri Coronel revealed on Wednesday that he and two other directors will remain at the club until replacements are found, before claiming "Cruyff is more important than us".

Cornonel added: "This process, especially the continuing unrest around the club, is extraordinarily damaging for Ajax. We are not bigger than Ajax, Johan Cruyff is not just anyone. He's a demi-god here, or maybe a whole god."

Cruyff has made several controversial recommendations to the board but his proposals have led to an impasse, which could see an extraordinary general meeting called that would see his ideas rejected or approved in their entirety.

Coronel claimed at the news conference Cruyff had wanted to get rid of eight Ajax employees.

"Firing of personnel with an ongoing contract has serious financial consequences,'' he said. "Five of the eight staff members have ongoing contracts, which are already equivalent to over one million euros.''

According to reports, Cruyff also called for head coach Frank de Boer to be given a greater responsibility in the running of the club and wanted former players like Dennis Bergkamp and Wim Jonk to be given roles.

Cruyff was quoted as telling television station AT5: "It's never good for a club when the board resign.''

Ajax currently lie in third place in the Eredivisie table and were knocked out in the last 16 of the Europa League by Spartak Moscow.