Ajax will have a full weekend to prepare for their Champions League semi-final first leg against Tottenham after the Dutch Football Association (KNVB) decided to postpone the whole round of Eredivisie fixtures.
Erik Ten Hag’s side are through to the last four for the first time since 1996 after their dramatic 2-1 quarter-final second leg victory against Juventus on Tuesday.
After Tottenham’s equally thrilling victory against Manchester City on Wednesday, the two clubs are now scheduled to meet in the semi-final first leg at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Tuesday, April 30.
Ajax were due to take on De Graafschap in the league 48 hours before their trip to Tottenham on Sunday, April 28.
That provides a problem for the KNVB, who say Eredivisie sides have to have at least two full days rest between games.
The fixture cannot be moved forward to either the Friday or Saturday because it is a national holiday in the Netherlands, meaning they would be unable to provide adequate stewarding and policing.
As a result, the authorities have now taken the decision to move the entire round of fixtures to Wednesday, May 15 – making them the final round of matches in the regular season.
The KNVB feels this is much fairer than just moving the one fixture as with Ajax competing for the title and De Graafschap battling against relegation, playing their last game after everyone else may present them with a competitive advantage.
The consequence of the fixture change means Ajax will have six days’ rest before the Tottenham game. Mauricio Pochettino’s side meanwhile will have just two days rest as they take on West Ham in the Premier League on Saturday.
The KNVB, though, insists the change is not designed to aid Ajax’s Champions League ambitions.
“This is done to meet the agreed condition of at least two full days of rest between two games,” read a statement. “That is the starting point for our competition planning.
“That applies to all clubs and applies to all competitions in which they play; Eredivisie, cup tournaments and European football.
“In addition, for the sake of a fair running of the competition, we maintain that for as long as possible we insist that on the last two matchdays all clubs play their games simultaneously.”
The moving of the De Graafschap fixture to the final day will bring back some bad memories for Ajax fans.
The last time they faced Henk de Jong’s side in the final round of fixtures was in 2016. The Amsterdam side would have won the title with a victory but could only draw 1-1, allowing PSV Eindhoven, who beat Zwolle 3-1, to retain their title and knock Ajax into second.