A look at AFC Bournemouth’s rise from League 2 to the Premier League

Eddie Howe AFC Bournemouth

AFC Bournemouth’s meteoric rise to the Premier League has been nothing short of a footballing miracle. A few seasons ago they were floundering towards the depths of football’s League Two, and not many years ago they almost found themselves going out of business completely. So what was it that propelled them into the Premier League for the very first time in their history?

From the cynics point of view, you could answer that question extremely bluntly: money. Some fans believe this is the only reason the Cherries find themselves battling the likes of Man United and Chelsea (maybe this season we should be saying Leicester & Spurs) week-in, week-out; just 2 seasons ago the club found investment through an elusive Russian Billionaire, who has since pumped several million into the club.

To me, that is quite a lazy and simple assumption to be making about the club – that they’ve only done it thanks to the massive investment made in the club. Of course, this is one part of the reasoning behind it, but there’s far more to it than that. Let’s take a look at a few other hugely important factors…

Eddie Howe

Under Howe’s guidance, the club has really blossomed beyond anyone’s beliefs. Eddie Howe, a former Premier League footballer himself with Portsmouth, who’s career was cruelly cut short through injury, started out as a manager at the club in the 2008-9 season. This was during a turbulent period in the club’s history – they were famously close to folding, until their chairman Jeff Mostyn invested his own money in keeping the club afloat (not for the first time). The players back then weren’t getting paid, and there were all sorts of issues on and off the field. Howe was really put in charge out of desperation on the part of the club – they had no funds to appoint an external manager, and Howe knew the players and the club more than many, and in the end accepted (after first refusing).

Howe had several years to build his squad and build his own philosophy into his players, which has always been to pass the ball along the ground, to play possession based football, with quick passing and plenty of movement. His players are always very quick and comfortable on the ball, and some might say his style of football is almost imitating that of some La Liga teams. Physical presence isn’t so much important in Howe’s side, although he does have some great defenders guarding Artur Boric’s goal.

The transformation under Howe’s management has been incredible – how many managers would be able to bring a team out of League 2 and then League 1, and then finally the Championship, in just a few seasons? Toward the latter part of the story, he did have an investment to go out and buy, but who wouldn’t – if Premier League status was their objective? The gamble paid off and now the club is making history.

Eddie Howe’s management of the club has been nothing short of miraculous, and if he can go on to keep the side up in the Premier League then he’ll surely be crowned king of the South Coast.

Investment in the Squad

The club was close to going out of business in 2008, but after selling off many assets they managed to scrape through and survive the threat of receivership. The Chairman became involved with Eddie Mitchell, a luxury property developer in Sandbanks (one of the richest, per metre, areas in the world based in Dorset) who bought into the club. Under Mitchell the club was seen as a bit of a joke – the chairman and his wife apparently ventured into the changing rooms to try and give motivational talks, and Mitchell was also caught swearing on a Radio 5 Live phone-in much to the bemusement of Mark “Chappers” Chapman at the time. Thankfully for the Cherries fans, Mitchell was able to persuade foreign investment thanks to his contacts – which is being Russian Maxim Demin comes in. Demin happily invested several million into the club, and now they were able to compete with many of the Championship’s big clubs – in terms of transfer fees and wages.

For a club that has a modest capacity of 11,464, some would say they would have never been able to compete with the other clubs in their league without external investment. But when they’re facing the likes of Leeds, Middlesborough, Nottingham Forest, all with 20,000+ stadiums, and who have spent many years sitting in the Premier League previously, who can begrudge them? Their fairytale rise gives hopes to hundreds of clubs throughout the football league.

In the clubs maiden-year in the Premier League, the Sponsorship of the club came from Mansion Group, which operates top rated casinos, such as MansionCasino.com. As well, they are also sponsors of Crystal Palace, another side that has done well despite fans and pundits predictions suggesting they’d struggle to avoid the drop.

The Right Blend of Players

This has to bring us full-circle and back to the manager, Howe. He had the hindsight to bring in the type of players which he did, and he built their playing style and lead them all the way to the top tier of English football. I’m certain that if you gave any manager the kind of budget Howe had, they’d still struggle to a) buy the right type of player, and b) get the team to gel in the way in which Bournemouth did. Not only this but to be playing the all-out, attacking style of football the way the side has done over the course of the past 2 seasons, really does go some way to show the level of manager that Howe is.

Whether the club can stay up this season remains to be seen. They’ve done admirably so far, but a few bad results have put them within touching distance of the relegation zone again. They’ve got some difficult fixtures coming up – Southampton, Tottenham, Man City, Liverpool, Chelsea and Man United await the side over the next few months, so they’ll be desperate to pick up as many points as possible and to hope that the clubs below them all struggle too.

Whatever happens on the South Coast, though, it’s certain that Howe’s got a job for life – that is if his head isn’t turned by any of the bigger Premier League clubs…

By Matt

Matt is the owner and chief-editor of the Footy Blog, one of the UK's leading football news blogs.