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Bournemouth Settle Off The Field To Start Creating Talent Once Again

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It could have been much different for AFC Bournemouth. After experiencing administration and the resulting 10 point deduction that contributed to their relegation from League One in 2008, they saw another 17 points taken away at the beginning of the 2008-09 season. Relegation to the Blue Square Premier Division was avoided with the help of Eddie Howe who was made the Football League’s youngest manager at the age of 31, but ownership troubles lasted for another two years when they were issued with a winding-up order from the HMRC in 2010 for outstanding debt after the club’s takeover by a consortium led by businessman Eddie Mitchell.

The Cherries are now stable and residing in the Championship, daring to look upwards to the riches of the Premier League following a run of 7 wins from their last 9 games. The latest of which was the 2-1 home triumph over QPR which closed Bournemouth, who have the third lowest average attendance in the second tier, to within five points of the play-offs.

A lot of the turnaround has been down to the takeover of Russian investor Maxim Demin who in 2011 bought a 50% share of the club from Jeff Mostyn and last September completed his purchase by acquiring the other 50% share from Mitchell. Mostyn remains as Chairman of the south-cost club and has said he has seen evidence of Demin’s wealth to the extent that the owner would become frustrated by the league’s regulations on Financial Fair Play.

But according to Mostyn, the Russian’s dream is to lead the Cherries to the Premier League, “Maxim has dreams and ambitions and he will not be satisfied until we reach the top”, he said.

“No one could demonstrate more commitment then buying the other half of the football club. Now as the sole owner everyone will see his intention to push the club beyond where we are today,”added Mostyn who remains ambiguous on just how much the Russian has put into the club but even if he says it is “a lot more” than the £7 million he has traded for preference shares, it hasn’t been solely haemorrhaged on transfers.

£2.3 million was spent to bring in South African striker Tokelo Rantie but that remains the club’s record signing, dwarfed by the £12.3 million that last Saturday’s opponents QPR used to break their club record on Christopher Samba. Mostyn has said that rising wages and the two £400,000 signings of Matt Ritchie and Ryan Fraser have pushed their finances from last year’s deficit of £3.4 million to the limit of the £8 million permitted loss under the Championships’ stringent rules, but again it is nothing when compared to the eye-watering £65 million loss announced by QPR back in March.

The size of the parachute payments, in the region of £23 million, benefiting the clubs relegated from the Premier League have been bemoaned by Mostyn yet it testament to the job done by Eddie Howe, back at the club for a second spell after a short stint at Burnley, that the Cherries are competing with QPR and could meet them again in May’s play-offs.

Harry Redknapp arrived in Goldsands with a squad full of Premier League experience with an England international in Rob Green in goal and two more on the bench. Bournemouth had no such answer to that quality of pedigree, but they did have the motivation of the 36 year old Howe who took the club from 21st in October 2012 to promotion from League One last April.

He is a manager who blends youth and experience and although Howe has increased the average age of his squad from 22 to more in the region of 27, the likes of Fraser, Eunan O’Kane, Steve Cook and Adam Smith compliment the longevity of Ian Harte and Steven Purches who are both in their mid-30s. Harry Arter, who was released from Charlton to join Woking in 2009, is now a key member of Howe’s midfield at the age of 24 and the 22 year old Cook is a regular in defence alongside Tommy Elphick, a centre-half pairing both formerly of Brighton. 21 year old goalkeeper Ryan Allsop meanwhile was Leyton Orient’s very promising first-choice goalkeeper before he joined Bournemouth last January and he now plays understudy to Lee Camp.

The next aim for Bournemouth is to produce their own talent so Demin’s millions aren’t always relied on to bring players in to help the dream of Premier League promotion. Howe has already began to overhaul the club’s youth set-up, bringing in former club captain Carl Fletcher and Joe Roach, who had been with the club for 10 years before he left his position of head of youth in 2011, rejoined the Cherries in January as part of the youth department. Fletcher had passed through the club’s academy before Roach’s last spell, together with Karl Broadhurst and Neil Moss. Howe himself also came through the set-up as a 17 year old, going on to represent England at under-21 level before a knee injury forced the centre-back into premature retirement.

Bournemouth also created the 40 goal partnership currently firing Burnley’s promotion charge, Sam Vokes and Danny Ings both receiving the guidance of Roach before moving on. Matt Tubbs also progressed on the south-coast to become prolific elsewhere, Crawley Town profiting from his goal-scoring touch as he fired the Red Devils into the Football League with 49 goals in 65 games before he rejoined Bournemouth in January 2012 for £800,000.

Tubbs is now back at Crawley on loan with 5 goals in 4 games and Josh McQuoid, a 24 year old attacking midfielder with 69 senior Bournemouth appearances to his name, is also impressing on a temporary deal at Peterborough. Joe Partington has made 52 appearances and is at Aldershot while promising striker Jayden Stockley is at Torquay to further learn their trade.

In the case of Tubbs and Brett Pitman, the striker who netted 62 times in 197 appearances before he was sold to Bristol City in 2010, it was a financial crisis that forced the Cherries to relinquish their most promising young assets. Now Pitman is back at Bournemouth having fired them to promotion last year. The 26 year old was introduced as a late sub in the victory over QPR and he will be hoping he can continue to play a role in the club’s rise upwards. Pitman is also likely to be the embodiment of what Bournemouth can produce now they are settled off the field under their Russian multi-millionaire.