The Ajax CT Diaries

The 3-Year Plans

Hi All. Sorry for the delay in getting this next article in the series out – real life stuff getting in the way! Anyway ….

After chatting with Guido and passing the save over to him first to do his DOF stuff, I soon got a message from him stating what a challenge this was going to be. Although it looks like it’s going to be easy to get out of the National First Division ( their second tier of football) it’s very hard for us to predict how easy our goal was to develop the club until it was meeting it’s own mission, vision and values statement.

Mission

To lift the standard of the South African football industry successfully, we need to win, be professional, be sustainable, profitable and be recognized as the best club in Africa at youth development.

Vision

To lift the standard of the South African football industry by unleashing the glorious potential of our youth.

Values

Our values are a celebration of the beautiful game:

The exuberance of the youth that celebrates with our development programmes.

The teamwork which celebrates our diversity.

The humanity that celebrates the professionalism that makes us winners.

And the profitability that ensures that our celebration is sustainable

Setting The Goals

With the above in mind, we both will pick out the key parts of the statement that we would directly influence and set our own 3 year agenda as to what our goals should be to ensure we surpass the clubs objectives.

Head Coach Aims & Plan

The key parts of my role are threefold as I see it:

  1. Lift the profile of the club by winning domestically & continentally.
  2. Develop a renowned youth coaching programme to benefit the club & national team.
  3. Raise the standard of the South African football industry.

With this in mind my 3 year plan is:

Year 1

  • Gain promotion to the ABSA Premier League
  • Introduce a tactical identity across the club
  • Bring high potential youth players into main squad & give them game time

Year 2

  • Challenge for the Premier League title
  • Set up robust, detailed development programme for academy players to facilitate their transition to the 1st team squad
  • Start to produce a conveyor belt of talent to replace first team squad members & represent the South Africa international team.

Year 3

  • Dominate domestic & continental competitions
  • Maximise training facilities to allow maximum development
  • Develop only from within using the youth recruitment network devised by the DOF

There will be challenges based on the financial constraints of playing in the South African system as there is no where near the monies available in the European markets we have been dealing with earlier in the save. To achieve the goals above then both myself and the DOF are going to need to work together on investing wisely regarding players, coaching staff & facilities. Over to you Guido ….

Director of Football Aims & Plan

What a challenge I faced. Ajax Cape Town has a fair few redeeming features but faces far more threats, which makes achieving success a precarious financial balancing act. What I did for Ajax CT, which is something I generally do for every club I start with, is creating a SWOT-like analysis.

A SWOT analysis is an incredibly simple, yet powerful tool to help you develop your strategies. The abbreviation stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.

Strengths and weaknesses are internal to the club; factors and circumstances that you have some control over and can change. Examples include who is on your team, excellent facilities and staff or a superb scouting setup.

Opportunities and threats are external; factors and circumstances that are going on outside your club, in the larger market. You can take advantage of opportunities and protect against threats, but you can’t change them. Examples include competitors, restrictive league rules and

A SWOT analysis organises your top strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats into a plain yet organised list. Below, you can see the SWOT analysis I created for Ajax Cape Town.

Strengths

Our main strengths were easy to determine. For starters, Ajax Cape Town has a strong affiliation with the Dutch Ajax Amsterdam. The Dutch side has imposed the AFC Ajax philosophy and effective youth development schemes in the Western Cape, while simultaneously backing the club financially.  The youth setup is among the better ones in the country.

Traditionally, the majority of the senior squad players have come up from the club’s own youth ranks. The strong academy ensures a steady stream of talents and the club is willing to give them a chance. This means that the squad that we have inherited boasts a fair few younger players with residual value. Should we opt to sell them, we can make a pretty penny, comparatively anyway.

Finally, the focus on youth development means that the coaching staff present at the club is strong and versatile. It may not be world class but it is strong enough for developing talent in the South African league system. The strong coaching staff present makes it easy to set up a conveyor belt of talent from the academy to the first team.

Weaknesses

Our main concern ought to be our financial status. The fact of the matter is that Ajax Cape Town is hemorrhaging money right now, with our projected financial status over a million in the red. The wages of our players are still on Premiership levels, while we are active in the First Division. The players are not likely to sign new deals for less money and allowing them to leave for free would be a waste of all those years we invested in developing our players.

Our First Division status also has an impact on our income. We are playing relatively small opponents, which are not likely to draw in a big crowd. We are spending as if we were a Premiership club, while our income is at a First Division standard. We need to win promotion back to the Premiership or we will go bust rather quickly.

A third issue is the lack of scouting funds. The club cannot afford a scouting package and while we have employed a number of scouts, we cannot cast as wide a net as I may have liked. We need to be able to draw in youngsters to replenish the ranks and investing in our scouting setup is absolutely crucial.

Opportunities

Some of our own personal weaknesses also yield opportunities. While it is a fact that we have limited funds, the same applies to almost every other South African club. Most clubs tend to give youngsters a chance, which makes uncovering them easy, even with no scouting funds. You can just see them in league games, week in, week out.

The presence of all these youngsters hints at an abundance of talent and the state of financial deprivation most clubs are in makes poaching these youngsters relatively easy. When they are not under contract with one of the major clubs, they are generally willing to switch allegiances and the clubs do not demand excessive fees for their prized assets.

The abundance of talent and lack of financial power also makes the South African league interesting for foreign clubs, looking to do a bit of bargain shopping. You can get relatively good players for discount prices in the South African leagues, which means that we will have no trouble flogging some of our assets if we need to make money.

Threats

The main threat is we face is the lack of funds in the domestic market. We will have no problems selling off our star players to foreign clubs but rather understandably, these are also the players we need to grow as a club. One of the ways to compensate for not selling the star players, would be to sell off dross players to smaller clubs. Sadly, there is no money with these clubs, so they won’t be spending any money on our surplus players.

A secondary threat, which poses as an opportunity as well, is the fact that the club is unable to offer long-term contracts. We can’t offer a contract beyond the duration of the running season. There is nothing in the league rules about any of this but since it’s the same for all the other clubs in the division, I am going to assume it is some sort of rule that is in place within the league structure.

The strategy

With limited funds and the inability to secure anyone on a long-term contract, we need to get out of the First Division and into the Premier League. From what I can gather, there is a bit of money in that division and we can offer longer-term deals to our star players. In order to win promotion, I need to strengthen the squad.

The idea is to aim for free agents. They will cost us nothing and offer a short-term quality boost to the squad. If they are good enough, we can keep them on board after winning promotion. If we fail to win promotion or they prove to be unreliable, we can cut them loose without too much hassle. The only money we lose is the wages we will have paid but that’s a risk I am willing to take.

At the same time, we will try to sign a number of talented youngsters on youth contracts. Again, this is not ideal because they can be poached this way but it is the only longer-term kind of deal we can offer.


2 Comments

Jady · February 16, 2019 at 5:05 pm

I’m really excited to see how this develops. Keep up the strong work!

tshepo · March 1, 2019 at 2:51 pm

South African reader….interested to see how this pans out

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