The fairytale emergence of AFC Bournemouth
Going from the brink of liquidation and playing with a 17-point penalty in League Two, the lowest tier of English football, to competing in the Premier League in a mere span of 8 years! Sounds like a FIFA career mode story, right? Well, this meteoric rise actually happened and AFC Bournemouth are the club to do so.
Way back in January 1997, a meeting took place at a local club playing in lower reaches of what is now called the League One. The club was £4.5 million in debt but the thing which threatened its existence was the £350,000 owed to the inland revenue. The club's fans raised £300,000 in a bucket collection for the club at that time and the club managed to stay afloat.
After a decade or so, the club were once again in deep waters when they went into administration in 2008. They were docked 10 points and relegated to League Two following their administration troubles but somehow survived. In the 2008-09 season, the club's future was in doubt but they were allowed to compete in the division with a 17-point penalty for failing to follow the Football League insolvency rules.
At the end of 2008, they were bought by a local businessman, Adam Murry, who had completed the purchase of 50% of the club's shares from the previous chairman Paul Baker. Bournemouth survived the following season even with a 17-point penalty and a consortium, including Adam Murray, purchased the rest of 50% shares in 2009.
The Eddie Howe factor
With Managers failing consistently, a 31-year-old defender, who made 313 appearances for the club before having to retire due to a knee injury, was named as the manager. With no managerial experience prior to the Bournemouth job, Howe was given the club's reins only because of his low wage demand which was later revealed by a club official.
Eddie Howe inherited a team sitting second bottom of the table in League Two with 7 points away from safety. Their survival was remarkable, something they earned with the help of club legend Steve Fletcher who scored the winning goal against Grimsby. Fletcher is now a first-team coach at the club.
In Howe's first full season in charge, the club finished second in the league table, earning an automatic promotion to the League One despite facing a transfer embargo imposed by the league association as the last punishment for financial mismanagement earlier. By this time Howe was making strides in English football. He was approached by Burnley, Charlton Athletic and Crystal Palace for managerial positions. Despite Initially stating he won't leave, he left for Burnley.
Lee Bradbury took over the club but despite reaching the playoffs, he suffered a dramatic loss at the hands of Huddersfield United on penalties. The following season was disappointing; Bradbury was sacked and his successor, Paul Groves, was also sacked after an awful start to 2012-13 Campaign.
Eddie Howe then returned to manage the Cherries when the team were languishing 20th in the league table. He not only he managed to stave off relegation but also achieved promotion to the Championship which saw them returning to that division after 22 long years. The following season, they finished 10th in the championship, their highest ever in the history of the club.
In the 2014-15 season, Bournemouth spent most of the season sitting on top of the league table and eventually won the Championship, getting promoted to the Premier League for the first time in the club's history.
Bournemouth finished 16th in Premier league in the 2015-16 season, keeping them in top-tier football for one more year. The following season, they finished in 9th place which is a massive achievement considering the stature of the club.
The role of Russian millionaire Maxim Demin
Apart from Eddie Howe, Maxim Demin has been a key figure in Bournemouth's rise. He poured millions of dollars into the club since he bought the club with now club Chairman Eddie Mitchell in 2011. His investment allowed the club to improve the stadium and nearly quadruple their previous transfer record for Matt Tubs when he arrived.
He made a statement in 2013 when he invited Spanish giants Real Madrid for a pre-season friendly by paying £750,000 to Galacticos only to lose to them 6-0. Despite the defeat, English Club fans got to see Cristiano Ronaldo, so that was a plus.
They toppled their own transfer record by spending more than €40 million on the likes of Jordon Ibe and Lewis Cook.
Shape of things in near future
Though Maxim Demin is no Roman Abramovich, he is doing the best he can for the club. His love for the club and his management model is enough for the club to sustain them in English football top tier for a foreseeable future.