Cottagers confident Jol will leave Ajax
THE battle for Martin Jol's services appears to be developing into a protracted tug-of-war after Ajax refused a request from their manager to discuss terms with Fulham.
Jol is believed to have told Ajax chairman Uri Colonel that he wants to join Fulham to replace Roy Hogdson as manager, in contradiction to reports in the Dutch media that he had resolved to stay.
Fulham believe they have found their man, and are still confident of securing Jol's signature, but even though their chief executive Alistair Mackintosh has flown to Amsterdam in an attempt to negotiate a deal, Ajax have refused to meet him.
Jol -- who only joined from Hamburg 14 months ago -- still has two years remaining on his contract, and Fulham would be required to pay Ajax compensation.
Much therefore depends on how determined Ajax are to retain Jol. It is not yet clear whether they are truly set on holding him against his will and possibly persuading him to stay, or merely using their intransigence as a bargaining chip in any forthcoming compensation negotiations.
Jol still owns a house across the water and has expressed a desire in the past to return to English football, having spent three years at Spurs and taken them to the verge of the Champions League in 2006 and 2007.
However, he is a popular manager at Ajax, with whom he won the Dutch Cup and came within one point of winning the title in his first season at the club. Speculation early yesterday suggested that he was prepared to stay if offered guarantees that money would be made available to strengthen his squad, and that key players such as Gregory van der Wiel and Luis Suarez would not be sold.
Yet Jol's reassurance was no more than tentative: "Fulham were inter-ested, but in principle I'll stay at Ajax."
It appears, however, that circum-stances have overtaken principle. Later in the day, Jol informed the club's supervisory board that he wished to be released from his contract. With Jol having played his hand, Ajax may well adjudge that his exit is inevitable and will turn their attentions to securing a satisfactory financial settlement.
However, if they continue to rebuff Fulham's advances, Mackintosh will be forced to explore alternatives if he wants a new manager installed before the start of the season. Dave Jones, Mark Hughes, Gianfranco Zola and Sven-Goran Eriksson remain the most likely contingencies. (© Daily Telegraph, London)