(Reuters) – Ajax Amsterdam will have almost a week free to prepare for their Champions League last 16 second leg clash at Real Madrid after the Dutch federation on Thursday allowed the club to move their Eredivisie game against PEC Zwolle.
Four-times European champions Ajax lost the first leg 2-1 at home last week, despite outplaying Real for long periods, leaving the Dutch club with faint hopes of reaching the quarter-finals of the competition for the first time since 2003.
Ajax, who are in second spot four points behind PSV Eindoven in the Dutch top flight, were due to play Zwolle on Saturday, March 2, three days before the Madrid trip, but their domestic league match will now take place on Wednesday, March 13.
The club apologised to fans for the short-term disruption but hoped they would understand the significance of the move.
“The request to change this game was submitted by Ajax to the KNVB (federation) with the aim of an optimal preparation in the run-up to the important and decisive away match against Real Madrid,” said a on the club website.
“Ajax realizes that the new playing date – on a weekday – will not be ideal for all fans. An alternative turned out to be impossible for various organisational reasons, which Ajax unfortunately has no influence on.”
The club added that they would compensate season ticket holders who could not attend the match on the new date.
(Reporting by Christian Radnedge; Editing by Ken Ferris)