Bournemouth: From gloom to glamour
From the gloom of administration seven years ago, Bournemouth are on the brink of Premiership promotion
The genteel English seaside town of Bournemouth awoke yesterday to the astonishing prospect that its football club, on the brink of extinction only five years ago, will be revelling in the glamour and wealth of Premier League football next season.
Barring a near-impossible 20-goal swing in the final games on Saturday, Bournemouth will be promoted from the Championship to challenge the likes of Chelsea and Manchester United in English football's top flight for the first time in their 116-year history.
It is a turnaround few would have throught possible.
"It's been an amazing journey," one we never expected to go on. It doesn't seem real," manager Eddie Howe said after yesterday morning's promotion-clinching 3-0 win over Bolton Wanderers.
"This club were on their knees six years ago, we had nothing, the bailiffs coming in every day and people not getting paid.
"A group of supporters put their hands in their pockets to keep the club alive and they are reaping the rewards."
Bournemouth's stadium holds only 12,000 - big enough for the fourth-tier club they once were - and their annual turnover is around £5 million ($10m); but promotion to a Premier League awash with cash from its billion-pound TV deals will be worth at least £120m even if they last only one season.
Yesterday morning's home win over Bolton sparked celebratory mayhem as supporters of the Cherries poured onto the pitch.
When fans, players, management and chairman told TV cameras the moment was "unbelievable", there was no exaggeration.
Bournemouth has always been better known for its sandy beaches, leafy parks and Victorian pier than for footballing prowess.
For decades, the club's notable achievements were restricted to Ted MacDougall's record tally of nine goals in an 11-0 FA Cup win over Margate in 1971 and an upset victory over holders Manchester United in the same competition in 1984.
Those moments looked set to be their epitaph when they were forced into administration seven years ago.
Two years of desperate fund-raising, with fans shaking collecting tins and chairman Jeff Mostyn throwing in £750,000 of his own money, just about kept them afloat.
However, when they began the 2008/09 season in the fourth tier and the wolves still at the door, the future looked bleak.
Somehow, they escaped the drop into the abyss of minor league football, and slowly began to fix their finances, securing an unlikely promotion the following year.
The club were bought by Russian businessman Maxim Demin in 2011, enabling Howe to start buying players of increasing quality.
Still only 37, Howe may now be eyed by other clubs, but having become the town's idol, it seems inconceivable he would depart before enjoying at least one season among the elite.
"I have always felt the supporters are with me," he said.
"It shouldn't be them thanking me, it should be me thanking them. It is a family club and deserves its moment in the sun."
Howe's men will no doubt head into next season as favourites for the drop, but Bournemouth chairman Mostyn insisted the Cherries would "enhance" the division and "have as much chance as any of staying up".
"I think we'll survive," he told BBC Radio Solent. "We are going up with Watford and we've got four points from them this year, we beat QPR last year and we should have got more points from Burnley.
"The way we play football we'll enhance the Premier League and I think of any team that has been promoted in recent years, we have as much chance as any of staying up."
Looking back at the club's remarkable rise, he added: "Six years ago we were on the edge of abyss.
"For me, this is achieving the impossible. For all football fans, this is the perfect story and hopefully it gives hope for every club that you can come back from oblivion and get to the Premier League.
"I am so proud of everybody and my total respect to the owner, the chief executive and all the staff. When I first arrived, we could not afford a first-class stamp."
Former England captains Rio Ferdinand and Gary Lineker were among those who took to Twitter to congratulate the Cherries.
QPR defender Ferdinand, who had a short spell with the south-coast club as a teenager in the 1996/97 campaign, posted: "Congrats to Bournemouth on promotion to the PL..fairytale stuff-Bet the players aren't washing their kit like they were when I loaned there!"
In light of recent criticism of champions-elect "boring, boring Chelsea", Match of the Day host Lineker wrote: "Tell you who don't play boring football; Bournemouth. They'll be an excellent addition to the PL. Look forward to welcoming them on Match of the Day.
"The achievements of Eddie Howe at Bournemouth make me wonder whether we've possibly found the English 'Special One'." - Wire Services.
- Charlton Athletic FC:
Bournemouth celebrating like they've completely ruled out a 19-0 defeat at The Valley on Saturday.
We'll see... #cafc.
“Eddie deserves to be the Lord Mayor or something. Everybody has played a great part, the owner has put the money in, the chairman, the chief exec... Eddie has done an amazing job. a fantastic manager.”
- Former Bournemouth manager Harry Redknapp
England's own'SPECIAL ONE'?
PHOTO: ACTION IMAGES/MATTHEW CHILDS
With Bournemouth effectively promoted to the Premier League, their inspirational manager Eddie Howe has been showered with plaudits.
Former England striker Gary Lineker has even wondered "whether we've possibly found the English 'Special One'", such has been his influence on the Cherries.
Press Association Sport analyses Howe's credentials.
Howe (above), 37, is in his second spell in charge of the hometown club he also represented as a player.
He was first thrust into the hot seat at the age of 31 with the club in crisis in January 2009, threatened with relegation from the Football League during a season in which they had been deducted 17 points.
He engineered survival and then oversaw automatic promotion the following year despite a transfer embargo.
He left for Championship Burnley in 2011 but quit Turf Moor for personal reasons the following year and returned to Bournemouth. He secured promotion to the Championship in 2013 and his rise has continued since.
Howe comes across as a humble, easy-going, thoughtful personality who is too modest to accept all the praise coming his way. Behind that is a clearly a very intelligent person who has a talismanic effect on his players.
His captain Tommy Elphick has suggested he "deserves a knighthood" for what he has done for the club and players. The team spirit he has fostered at the Goldsands Stadium is one of great togetherness and reflective of Howe's inclusive personality.
RELATIONSHIP WITH CLUB
The relationship Howe enjoys with the club's chairman Jeff Mostyn, and then that pair with hands-off owner Maxim Demin, appears to be a harmonious one.
Howe is trusted by the club and they give him their total backing. In return, he has delivered and the lines of communication back upstairs have been open and clear.
In the wider context, Howe has also been open with fans, underlining the feeling of a community club being run well. His work in that regard has even seen him compared to Juergen Klopp, whose bond with fans and club at Borussia Dortmund was also strong.
In Howe's early time in charge of the Cherries, his opportunities for recruiting players were limited.
The side that won promotion to the Championship contained the bulk of players that excelled in League One and a number from the League Two days.
In recent times, with Demin taking 100 per cent ownership in 2013, there has been more money to spent.
Most notably, Tokelo Rantie was bought for a club record £2.5 million and other high-profile players such as Dan Gosling, Artur Boruc and Kenwyne Jones have been brought in.
TACTICS/STYLE OF PLAY
Howe's style of play has won almost universal praise. He advocates an attractive, attacking game and the 112 goals in all competitions his team have scored this season underlines that.
He has stuck firmly to this philosophy but is also meticulous in his approach.
He is a modern, forward-thinking manager whose success has seen him linked with other high-profile jobs, most notably West Ham.
11 Factsabout the cherries
PHOTO: ACTION IMAGES/JASON O'BRIEN
1 On April 25, 2009, Bournemouth beat Grimsby 2-1 to preserve their status in the Football League.
2 Steve Fletcher scored the winning goal that day - his 100th in the league. Fletcher now has a stand named after him and works for the club as a scout.
3 Manager Eddie Howe started his professional career with the club and, after leaving for Portsmouth, such was his popularity that fans raised money online to pay for his return.
4 Howe was made player-coach at the age of 29, retiring from football in 2007 because of injury. He lost his job when Kevin Bond was sacked but returned under a new regime and would go on to become the manager himself.
5 Howe and loyal assistant Jason Tindall - another former Cherry - left for Burnley in 2011 but returned in 2012, the lure of Dean Court proving too strong.
6 Howe's overall record for Bournemouth is played 243, won 126, drawn 49, lost 68.
7 In Bournemouth's 116-year history, they have played in or below the third tier for all but five years.
8 Last season's 10th-placed finish in the Championship was their best-ever return.
9 Bournemouth were Harry Redknapp's first club as a manager. He took charge of them for nine years, overseeing 464 games - the most he has managed any team.
10 Jermain Defoe (left) made 31 loan appearances for Bournemouth, scoring 19 goals.
11 Rio Ferdinand also wore the Bournemouth shirt, playing 11 times for them on loan from West Ham.