The miracle of Lazarus being risen from the dead is considered in Christianity as nothing short of a miracle. The work of Eddie Mitchell is seen by many as a footballing equivalent. Last Monday the news came out that Russian co-owner Maxim Demin had bought out Mitchell’s share in the club. This report looks at the state Mr Mitchell leaves the club in after over 4 years at the helm.
By the end of 2008, after years of financial trouble AFC Bournemouth found themselves at the base of the football league with liquidation looking the inevitable outcome at the end of the season. Local businessman Adam Murray purchased 50% of the club’s shares. The great escape led by Eddie Howe and a squad built on less than a shoestring was one of the greatest achievements in English football but financial doubt still loomed large. In the off season a consortium led by Murray took over the club with controversial Dorchester chairman Eddie Mitchell taking up the role at Bournemouth. Fans were understandably questionable of the new chairman after years of seeing their club dragged through the mud. However, Mitchell started as he meant to go on with frequent public appearances in the local press sometimes for good and others less so.
His early years at the club saw him scraping with the football league over transfer embargo’s and restrictions that had been put on the club since leaving administration. This was seen by some as bad press for the club although it gave the club a voice and was a signal to anyone who would listen that Bournemouth were on the up and not to be messed with.
Despite all the good Mitchell did for Bournemouth it is impossible to avoid some of his PR disasters which threatened to cut his tenure at the club short. The first troubled incidents came in a matter of weeks at the start of the 2011 season. At an annual fans forum Mitchell swore on several occasions before telling fans of the club if they didn’t like what they saw they should “go and support Southampton”. Two weeks later after a crushing 3-0 home defeat, a drunk Mitchell addressed the fans in a tirade which within hours went viral on social media. After several quiet months a bad run of form on the pitch in winter Mitchell went on national radio to discuss rumours that co-owner Maxim Demin’s wife had spoken to the players at half time. Following a question from radio host Mark Chapman, Mitchell’s bad mouth reared it’s ugly head and he was cut off with good reason.
The final incident came in September 2012. A poor start to the season under Paul Groves, just one win by the end of September, found fans voicing their opinion outside the stadium reception. Mitchell came out to address the fans and came close to blows with one of the disgruntled supporters. Within the next few weeks the fans got their wish with Groves gone and the return of fan favourite Eddie Howe.
Mitchell turned the club around both on and off the pitch, a visit to the Goldsands Stadium in the present day is unrecognisable to what you would have seen three or four years ago. The club needed fixing from the bottom up and Mitchell made this a priority from the start. Revamping the concourse and bar areas was just the start. The most obvious change has to be the training ground. For many years the club never had a permanent training facility and Mitchell believed this was an essential part of the club’s redevelopment and in 2012 off season waste ground just 100 yards from the stadium was converted into a state of the art training area with three full sized pitches and two 3G small sided pitches.
What can be most noted by his tenure at the club will be the on pitch success. To take a club on it’s knee’s ready to go out of business to a club back in the second tier of English football for the first time in 30 years. After bringing Russian businessman Maxim Demin to the club it’s financial security appears to be safe and as Mitchell said himself he has taken the club as far as he can.
Critics of Mitchell will cite his PR disasters and dodgy dealings but it can’t be denied that he always had the club’s best interests at heart and can be remembered as the most successful chairman the club has had to date. What the future holds under mystery Max is yet to be seen. The Cherries will however find that with the departure of the maverick dorset businessman “you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone”.