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Ajax in 'existential crisis' on and off the field

Once a giant of European football, Ajax is now mired in one of the deepest crises in its glittering 123-year history, 14th in the league, top officials sacked, and the fans running riot.

"The club is in flames," screamed a headline on the supporters' association website, describing the scrapping of Sunday's 'Klassieker' against bitter rivals Feyenoord as "a low point in the crisis."

With Ajax shipping three goals in an abject first-half performance, elements of the club's hardcore supporters threw flares onto the pitch, leaving the referee no choice but to abandon the match.

Ugly scenes ensued in Amsterdam, with fans smashing down the entrance to the ground and fighting running battles with mounted riot police firing tear gas.

It was a sad chapter in a glorious history unmatched in Dutch football.

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