Tottenham Hotspur and Ajax playing each other in the semifinals of the Champions League is a pretty big deal. However, one of those two teams is getting some help from its parent league, and the other one... well, isn’t so much.
Apparently, the Eredivisie has announced that it is rescheduling an entire week’s worth of fixtures ahead of Ajax’s trip to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in order to give the Dutch club more time to prepare for the match. The Eredivisie is even doing so over the objections of some of its other clubs.
Ajax was originally scheduled for a match against De Graafschap on April 28, two days before the Champions League match. That’s crazy close, but instead of just postponing that match, the league decided to postpone all matches that weekend “in order to maintain the integrity of the league and the title race.” Spurs, by contrast, host West Ham in the Premier League next Saturday before playing Ajax with just three days rest and recuperation.
Here’s what Eredivisie president Eric Gudde said about the move.
“We have looked at all kinds of ways to move games with Ajax progressing so far in the Champions League. It is not ideal for everyone, I appreciate that, but this is not just helping Ajax. It is being done to help Dutch football as a whole because it means so much to be successful in Europe.”
Mauricio Pochettino has mentioned on more than one occasion this season how the Premier League doesn’t exactly bend over backwards to help out teams that are competing in European competitions. He’s on record as saying that he wishes they did a little more, since the grind of playing matches every 3 days or so is grueling, especially to teams that want to go deep into the competition.
An extra few days of preparation and rest might not make a huge difference to some people, but at this stage of the competition matches can be decided on extremely fine margins. Ajax will now definitely go into the match rested and fully prepared for Spurs. Tottenham will have to pull together their prep in a couple of days.
I mean, at one level, good for the Eredivisie and good for Ajax! It’s not like they’re doing anything unseemly. It’s actually really great of the Dutch league to do this for them, as it’s clearly a priority for the KNVB to have its league members perform well in Europe. And I suppose if the Premier League were to reschedule an entire week of fixtures just so Liverpool could have a few days rest I’d probably be annoyed. It’d just be nice if the Premier League would do a little bit to help ensure that English clubs who are this deep into the Champions League don’t go into their matches with an actual competitive disadvantage.