Ajax (as often happenedmade it to the championship play-offs. On 9 December 1934-, a brand-new stadium was opened. Officially, the club's new home was named the 'Ajax Stadium', but it was soon popularly called 'De Meer', after Watergraafsmeer, the part of Amsterdam where the stadium was situated. World War II also brought bad times for Ajax but shortly after that, in 1947, Ajax was able to celebrate another title. One of the players in the championship-winning team was Kinus Michels. In the sixties, he gave Ajax a strong professional foundation on which countless national and international successes were built. In contrast with other countries, Football in the Netherlands, at the end of the Forties, was still played on an amateur basis. This situation ended in 1954. Many traditional clubs found it difficult to convert to professionalism. On 15 July 1954, the Ajax Annual Members' Meeting voted on the dub's conversion to a professional football organisation. The members felt that if Ajax wanted to keep pace with football s top teams, the step to professional football was an unavoidable one. Although the chairman, Mr. Koolhaas would rather have seen Ajax remain an amateur club, the decision was reached that Ajax would vote in favour of the introduction of professional football. The Dutch FA initially refused to give in; however, it was won over on 13 November 1954: professional football was officially allowed in the Netherlands, and Ajax was one of the first professional dubs. The 1957 title brought Ajax its first taste of a new phenomenon: European Cup football. In the competition for Europe's national champions Ajax started with a double victory over East German side Wismut, after which Ajax was eliminated in the quarter final stages by Vasas of Budapest. Internationally, the Dutch football clubs played only a modest role. The Latin countries, where professional football had reached a very high quality and financial level, had the upper hand in the international arena. To reach the quarter final was therefore considered to be a great success. Concerning the club's management, an important step was taken with regard to a new structure with the introduction of a members' Council in June 1962, which became the most important body within the organisation. Within the club it can be seen as the Lower House of the Dutch Farliament. The powers of the members' Council include appointing management board members of the Association, supervising the management board and adoption of club regulations and amending the Articles of Association. Ajax finished the 1964/1965 season out of the top four for the first time in the professional era. The 'Year of Crisis' (Ajax finished 13th in the league), however, also brought some very positive things. A new young talent announced himself: Johan Cruijff. With Ajax, he would develop into the best player in the whole world. And, on 21 January 1965, Kinus Michels was appointed manager as successor of Vic Buckingham, who was dismissed. Surrounded by a group of hugely talented players, Michels went his own, revolutionary, way. He gave the club an enormous professional boost and built a very powerful team. Ajax not only collected a string of Dutch league titles, it also conquered Europe. The way in which the team did this, with superbly modern, attacking football, left an overwhelming impression and made the name Ajax famous all over the world. After it had been the first Dutch club to reach the final of the European Cup (which it lost) in 1969, Ajax managed to win this most sought-after European club prize three times in a row, from 1971 to 1973. Ajax was regarded as the best club side in the world, which reputation was confirmed once again when Ajax won the


Jaarverslagen Ajax NV (vanaf 1997) | 1998 | | pagina 6