Van Gaal returns to Ajax as advisor as board seeks way forward

Van Gaal receiving a lifetime achievement award in Utrecht a month ago. Photo: ANP/Ramon van Flymon

Former Ajax coach Louis van Gaal has agreed to assist the club in an advisory capacity following the sacking of Sven Mislintat as director of football.

Van Gaal had earlier ruled out a full-time return to Amsterdam because of his health. The 72-year-old is being treated for prostate cancer and spends most of his time in Portugal.

“I’m happy to help Ajax,” he said in a statement published on the club’s website. “My life is mainly in Portugal and that’s a good fit for this role as external advisor. Our sporting path needs to take an upward turn and all of us can and should do our share.”

Van Gaal won the European Cup with the club in 1995 as well as three Eredivisie titles, and coached the Netherlands men’s national team at the World Cup in 2014 and 2022, losing both times to Argentina on penalties.

Last month he received the Eredivisie’s lifetime achievement award to recognise his status as a “great ambassador for Dutch football.”

Ajax asked him to advise the supervisory board after Jan van Halst ruled out a return when his spell as interim CEO ends in March.

Supervisory board overhaul

De Telegraaf reported that Van Halst was under pressure from the club’s management board not to return to his former role when Alex Kroes takes up his appointment as CEO in March. Kroes, who replaces Edwin van der Sar, is unable to start earlier under the terms of a settlement with his former club, AZ Alkmaar.

The club blame Van Halst and two other supervisory board members for failing to regulate Mislintat’s dealings in the transfer market. The German bought a player in the summer whose agent held shares in a data analysis company that he founded.

The potential conflict of interest is currently under investigation by a forensic accountant.

Mislintat was sacked at the end of September, four months after he joined the club, on the day the Klassieker against Feyenoord had to be abandoned because of crowd trouble, but Ajax said his dismissal was unrelated to the investigation.

Van Gaal said he wanted to see former chairman Michael van Praag and Leo van Wijk appointed to the supervisory board. The two names will be put to shareholders at a general meeting on November 17.

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