When Ajax reached the Europa League final in 2017, the team was very excited; last season, Ajax went a step further and was within walking distance of reaching the Champions League final. These examples all show that as one of the oldest football clubs, Ajax's strength still cannot be ignored.
But if anyone thinks that Ajax needs to rely on the honor of the European arena to maintain its influence, it is wrong. In fact, regardless of record, this club will continue to influence the world of football: Ajax's philosophy is enduring.
"Winning success in top competitions is really helpful to us." Mennon-Gillen said, "Ajax builds the team with local players as the core, and the playing style is full of appreciation. This also helps us to promote our own ideas. . But another element is that Ajax has built a brand around a unique style of football that allows people from all over the world to connect with us."
“在顶级比赛中赢得成功对我们真的很有帮助。” Mennon-Gillen说：“ Ajax以本地球员为核心组建了一支球队，比赛风格充满赞赏。这也有助于我们推广自己的想法。但是另一个因素是Ajax围绕独特的品牌建立了品牌一种足球风格，使世界各地的人们都可以与我们联系。”
Gillen is the business director of Ajax. He is very familiar with club traditions and is also responsible for expanding Ajax's coaching academy.
Many European giants hope to sign outstanding young players from Ajax. Just last summer, Barcelona and Juventus spent huge sums of money to poach De Jong and Delicht from Ajax. From a financial point of view, Ajax cannot compete with these clubs, but is exerting its influence in another way, quietly leading the world football trend.
Former Barcelona midfielder Harvey once praised the "Ajax model", and now other clubs also want to introduce this model and are willing to spend money for it. According to Gillen, Ajax's coaching brand has already brought huge benefits to the club financially.
"In the past 25 years, many clubs have visited our youth academy." Gillen said, "We always take them around and tell them what we have done because it is a polite manner. But With more and more clubs visiting, we can no longer do that. In a sense, guiding visitors to the club has become a full-time job."
"If a club wants to improve the level of youth training, then we will discuss cooperation with them to help them achieve their goals. We can share Ajax training methods or provide advice on how to build infrastructure."
"In the Netherlands, we work with about 50 clubs. We have our own club in South Africa and we cooperate with the Australian club Sydney FC. In addition, in China, we also help Guangzhou R&F manage a youth training school."
"These cooperations have brought us huge commercial returns. Ajax’s annual TV broadcasting revenue is about 89 million euros, which is probably only equivalent to the average monthly income of Premier League clubs such as Everton, so we must create Li... We have signed a 10-year cooperation agreement with Guangzhou R&F. We can get 3 million euros each year and the total revenue is about 30 million euros. For a club like Ajax, 30 million euros is really a huge amount. Money."
"The same is true for cooperation with other clubs. The Coaching Academy can generate 5 to 6 million euros for Ajax every year. This money is almost equal to the TV broadcast income, and it is growing every year, from the initial hundreds of thousands of euros. It's five or six million euros."
"If the new crown epidemic ends, then I estimate that in a few years, this income may reach eight or nine million euros."
An interesting question is: what exactly do other clubs want to buy from Ajax? According to Gillen, in addition to helping partners build youth training infrastructure, Ajax will also send youth training coaches to provide guidance.
"In Amsterdam, if we have coaches who want to seek new challenges or try a new lifestyle, they can go to China for two years and then come back." He said, "Ajax's top coaches will stay. In Amsterdam, fortunately we have many good coaches."
These coaches will not only let other clubs understand the Ajax tradition, but also bring innovative training methods.
"For us, innovation is crucial. We are eager to take the lead in the future and be open to change and innovation. We always encourage everyone to come up with new ideas. As a club, we want to play like the players in the game. Creativity. Sometimes this is difficult, because in football, many people have a very traditional way of thinking and are not willing to change the culture."
"But you can't stop and take it for granted that you know everything. We still have a lot to learn, but from the perspective of training players and coaches, I believe our approach is unique."
Some of the innovations are very subtle: in training at the Ajax Youth Academy, young players wear socks of different colors on their left and right feet, which can help players understand which teammates’ preferred foot is. Details are important.
At the same time, in order to innovate in training methods, Ajax is also willing to seek inspiration from other fields.
"At the Ajax Youth Academy, many coaches have backgrounds in other sports such as track and field, cycling, baseball, and hockey." Gillen told me, "For example, how can an athlete complete the Tour de France in 20 days? Nutrition is the key. If Ajax players have to play 3 games in a week, then we can also learn from it."
"When we visited the cycling team, we found that the players have their own menu. This gave us a lot of inspiration: if you want every player to perform at the highest level, then you must provide a customized menu."
"Some coaches with track and field background will teach players how to run and guide them to change their footing... E-sports is also useful. We noticed that young players really like playing games, and this helps them improve The hand-eye coordination may also improve responsiveness."
"Globally, Ajax is one of the first football clubs to hire professional e-sports players. The reason for this is indeed commercial considerations: e-sports can help us connect with young fans, and we will The money earned from the e-sports business is reinvested in the youth academy."
You may be wondering, what plans does Ajax have for the future?
"Ajax is not Manchester United." Gillen said, "We cannot do business in 20 countries at the same time, so we can only step by step. Entering South America (the market) will be our next step, but at this stage, we Focusing on the Chinese, Japanese, Australian and American markets, we have an office in New York."
From the perspective of shaping football, Ajax's brand may be stronger than Manchester United.
"The youth academy is like our lifeline. We can't buy legendary players, but we can train stars. We are certainly not the richest club in the world, but I personally think that if we talk about the impact on football style, we are still in a leading position. ."