Dutch football team Ajax Amsterdam has hired consulting firm The Boston Consulting Group to review the performance of its youth academy. The strategy consultants will in the coming months take the operations of the academy under scrutiny and provide financial and technical recommendations to the club’s Board of Directors.
Ajax Amsterdam, the largest football club of The Netherlands in terms of fan base, currently invests €7 million per year in its youth academy. In line with its objective to boost the quality of its academy – the club relies on young talent as its best players are regularly poached by foreign clubs* – Ajax has announced that it wants to enhance its annual academy spending. With the additional budget, it aims at for instance improving the infrastructure of its training complex (known as ‘de Toekomst’) and attracting high-quality youth trainers. Wim Jonk, head of Ajax’s Youth Academy (and a former Dutch international and Sheffield Wednesday player), asked for an additional budget of €1,8 million per year, yet the Board of Directors declined the request, arguing that €900.000 would be a more realistic figure.
Following criticism by Ajax and Dutch football icon Johan Cruijff, the Board has decided to bring in external expertise to conduct an independent assessment. The football club choose for the services of The Boston Consulting Group, the globe’s second largest strategy consulting firm. The consultants have been given the task to review the performance of the youth academy and provide financial and technical recommendations to Jonk and the Board. The engagement is being led by BCG’s Dutch office, based in the country’s capital Amsterdam.
Although both Ajax and BCG have declined to comment on the project, the choice for BCG does not come as a real surprise according to insiders. Hans Wijers, who sits on the supervisory board of Ajax Amsterdam, has a history at BCG: between 1999 and 2003 he fulfilled the role of Managing Partner at BCG in The Netherlands.
* Recent examples include the transfer of former Ajax captain Siem de Jong to Newcastle, Jan Vertonghen to Tottenham and in 2011 the move of Luis Suarez to Liverpool (currently at FC Barcelona).