Ajax post €24m losses after pandemic dampens transfer sales

Photo: DutchNews.nl
Photo: DutchNews.nl

Eredivisie club Ajax said the coronavirus pandemic had a severe impact on its business last season, leading to losses of €24.3mln.

The lockdowns affected not just ticket sales but the prices in the transfer market, where Ajax received €36.8mln in 2021/22 compared to €86.1mln last year, recording a net loss of €19.1mln.

‘In a sporting sense things went well and that’s the most important thing for Ajax,’ financial director Susan Lenderink said. ‘But in financial terms it wasn’t a good year. The losses were much greater than the loss in the previous season.’

The losses were three times higher than the €8.1mln posted in 2020/21, when the season was cut short because of the pandemic.

Ajax made an operational loss of €7.6mln, mainly as a result of having to play in closed stadiums in the first half of the season. The club qualified for the knockout stages of the Champions League, winning all six group stage matches, but then lost to Benfica in the round of 16.

Nouri settlement

Turnover increased by 50% to €189.2mln, largely driven by Champions League bonuses and the return of fans to stadiums.

But its costs amounted to €196.8mln, including a €7.8mln settlement for the family of Appie Nouri, the former midfielder who suffered permanent brain damage after collapsing on the pitch during a friendly match in July 2017.

Lenderink said the club’s overall financial position remained healthy and it was on course to return a profit this season, following the sales of Antony and Lisandro Mártinez to Manchester United for a total of €160mln.

‘Even after the losses of the last book year we still have strong capital reserves. Moreover, the outlook is positive. We are participating in the Champions League again and the transfer market has been rekindled.’

Lenderink also referred to the departure of director of football Marc Overmars after it emerged that he had sexually harassed female staff members by sending them inappropriate pictures.

‘It was an eventful year because of corona, but also because of the unacceptable behaviour that unfortunately took place,’ she said. ‘Creating a safe sporting and working environment is our absolute top priority as board of directors.’

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