Ajax’s unlikely bid for Champions League glory will be lent a helping hand after the Royal Dutch Football Association (KNVB) announced it will move an entire round of Eredivisie fixtures.
The Dutch top flight’s 33rd round of fixtures – the season’s penultimate round – was due to take place on Sunday, April 28, two days before Erik ten Hag’s side face Tottenham in London.
The KNVB is committed to giving teams at least two full days of rest between games and moving Ajax’s scheduled match against De Graafschap forward to April 27 is problematic as that date marks the national holiday of Koningsdag.
To avoid teams playing a key set of fixtures at different times, the entire round will now take place on May 15 and will be the final slate of games.
That means Ajax will now have a full week of rest between their home clash with Vitesse on April 23 and their visit to Spurs, with Tottenham facing West Ham in the Premier League just three days before the Champions League game.
Eric Gudde, professional football director at the KNVB, said in a statement: “The wishes of the clubs were identified in the creation of the matchday calendar for the 2018-2019 season.
“It was jointly decided that the cancellation of a midweek round should be given priority over the very small chance that one of the clubs would go that far in the Champions League.
“Now that this is the case with Ajax, it appears that at the end of the season there is no more room to easily switch to alternative dates with Eredivisie games.
“After weeks of exploring all possible solutions, the remaining scenarios were presented today to the clubs.
“We have discussed various scenarios. We want to move game round 33 to Wednesday, May 15. The play-offs for promotion/relegation and for the European places will also shift as a result.”
— AFC Ajax (@AFCAjax) April 16, 2019
Gudde conceded the move had not been met with unanimous enthusiasm from Ajax’s Eredivisie counterparts.
“There can be no question of full satisfaction, because this is ultimately not pleasant for any of the people involved,” he added.
“What is really nice is the reason why this was necessary: the semi-final place of Ajax in the Champions League. Not only Ajax, but all Dutch football benefits from this.”
Ajax remain in contention to complete a stunning treble as they lead PSV at the Eredivisie summit on goal difference with four games remaining.
Ten Hag’s side face Willem II in the KNVB Cup final on May 5, three days before they welcome Spurs to the Johan Cruyff ArenA for the second leg of their Champions League semi-final.
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