AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Ajax will not extend the stay of coach John Heitinga after a disappointing 2022-23 season in which they finished third and failed to qualify for the Champions League for the first time since 2009, opting instead to hire a more experienced tactician.
Former Dutch international Heitinga, 39, took charge of the side at the end of January following the departure of Alfred Schreuder and agreed a deal up to the end of the campaign. It was his first role as head coach of a senior team, having formerly worked with the club’s reserves.
Heitinga elevated the side from fifth to third in the table, but Ajax have decided not to extend his stay, though he could remain involved with the club in some capacity.
“On a personal level, this was a tough decision and it was not easy to tell him,” Ajax director of football Sven Mislintat told the club’s website on Thursday.
“John got on board to help the club in a difficult time, and he did that full of dedication. We are very grateful for that.
“He learned a lot in the last couple of months and we would like to play a role in his development and keep him connected to the club. But I have concluded that Ajax needs a more experienced head coach.”
Ajax announced earlier this week that chief executive officer Edwin van der Sar will leave his post after what he termed “an incredibly tough period”.
Feyenoord won the Dutch league title this season, finishing 13 points ahead of Ajax. PSV Eindhoven were runners-up and claimed the second Champions League qualification place.
(Reporting by Nick Said, editing by Pritha Sarkar)