Ajax Amsterdam’s start to the season has been a failure, and Sven Mislintat is already being criticised for his transfer policy. Now there is a serious accusation against the director of professional football of the Dutch record champion.
Mislintat is accused by NOS, the Dutch equivalent of ARD, of having pushed through the transfer of Borna Sosa from his former club VfB Stuttgart to Ajax despite a conflict of interest. Specifically, it concerns the football data analysis company Matchmetrics GmbH, which he co-founded in 2016. This is because the ownership structure changed at the end of June 2023. In addition to Dietmar Mertel, a German expatriate with an affinity for football, who took a 3.6 per cent stake, Puma (3.21 per cent) and the company AKA Global GmbH (3.16 per cent) have since joined the list of shareholders. In the course of this, Mislintat also increased his share to 35 per cent. This is a problem for the 50-year-old because AKA is a player consulting agency owned in equal parts by Arthur Beck and Kerim Cerit. And because it was mandated by Mislintat in the Sosa transfer. Ajax paid around 8 million euros for the services of the left-back, who was desperate to leave VfB.
Club knew nothing about AKA’s involvement in Matchmetrics
As was the case in Stuttgart, Mislintat, who joined Amsterdam in May 2023, informed his employer about his shares in the company, but he is not involved in the day-to-day business at Matchmetrics. However, the club “had no knowledge of AKA Global GmbH having a stake in Matchmetrics”, an Ajax statement told NOS. “We have of course discussed this with Sven. He has given a detailed explanation on this. Sven has explained that in 2020 there was an investment round where several parties invested in Matchmetrics. When the arrangements for the investment were made, it was also immediately agreed that this loan would be converted into a three per cent stake at a later date, Sven said.” Ajax said it would launch an investigation and also assured, “Sven is offering its full cooperation in this, including the disclosure of all relevant documents. “
When is it a conflict of interest?
As long as that investigation is ongoing, Mislintat does not want to comment. According to NOS, the connection contrasts with the club’s corporate governance statement. However, in terms of statute, business relationships between club officials and players’ agents are not prohibited anywhere. The DFB regulations, for example, require: “Before players and/or clubs use the services of an agent, they must ensure by reasonable means that no conflict of interest exists or could exist for either the players or the clubs or the agents.” However, this is quite easy to get around. It goes on to say: “A conflict of interest is negated if the intermediary discloses in writing any actual or potential conflict of interest it has with any other party to the matter in question in relation to a transaction, the intermediary contract or interests and receives express written permission from all other parties involved before the start of the negotiations in question.” That there are close relationships between some club officials and some agencies is a more or less open secret in football. Only recently, kicker reported on an investment by Hoffenheim’s main shareholder Dietmar Hopp in a subsidiary of the consulting agency Rogon.
Is Ajax aiming for separation?
It will now be interesting to see how the internal investigation at Ajax turns out. Both Mislintat and Beck are presumed innocent. However, the fact that the manager mandated a consultant to transfer a player from the club where he himself had previously been under contract for three and a half years does not give the happiest impression, to say the least. Especially since Sosa was represented by another agency until recently. The truth is, however, that there are rumours from the Dutch top club that they are looking for a way to get rid of Mislintat quickly.