Feuding Ajax must choose: Cruyff or Van Gaal

Ajax Amsterdam must decide next month whether the great Johan Cruyff or Louis van Gaal, who coached them to their last European Cup triumph 16 years ago, will be chosen to try to lead them back to the summit of the European game.

The decision will be made following an internal political war that has dragged on for months and has even involved allegations of racism against Cruyff which he has denied.

The Dutch maestro, one of the finest players to grace the game, is a man with strong views who has never got on well with Van Gaal and has alienated others with his opinions.

The tensions underlying attempts to restore the Dutch champions to their former glory have simmered for months and they exploded on Sunday with racism allegations on Dutch TV.

Edgar Davids, another former Dutch international who had two spells at Ajax during an illustrious playing career, said in a television interview that he had been racially abused during his time on the club's board.

Although Davids, who is of Surinamese descent, did not name the person involved, Ajax supervisory board chairman Steven ten Have later said on Dutch TV that Cruyff had told Davids: "You are only on the board because you are black."

Cruyff has strongly denied the racism allegations, saying in his weekly De Telegraaf newspaper column on Tuesday: "Ajax is a multicultural club and we have found that many talented immigrant players quit when they reach puberty.

"So we wanted to tackle this problem with someone from the same background who had come through it. And that was Edgar Davids. During one of our fights I pointed that out to him. But it had nothing to do with his skin colour."

Davids has also played the incident down, saying on his personal website: "I never said, and I want to emphasise that, that Johan Cruyff was a racist, despite this unfortunate remark on his part. I would also like to make clear I have deep respect for the player Johan Cruyff."

AMBITIOUS PROJECT

This week's racism row has diverted attention from the battle for control of Ajax with the board shattering under the weight of the ambitious project the club launched to re-establish itself among the elite of European football.

The three-man board led by chairman Uri Coronel stepped down at the start of the week and appointing a new one will be on the agenda when the club's 24-man members council meets on Monday.

The council must also decide what happens to the five-man supervisory board, with Cruyff lined up on one side and the other four members including Davids on the other, before a shareholders meeting scheduled for December 12.

Since the Ajax supporters' association owns more than 70 percent of the listed company it will ultimately decide what to do about the split in the supervisory board.

Cruyff, 64, said on Sunday he would not continue his work on the supervisory board with the other four members, who last week reached agreement with Van Gaal for him to become the club's general director from July 1.

Cruyff, who played in Ajax's three European Cup-winning teams from 1971-73, said the others had gone behind his back.

"Too many things have happened, keeping me in the dark," he said. "The deal