Eddie Mitchell’s decision to sell his share in AFC Bournemouth and step down as chairman ends a colourful four years at Dean Court.
History will decide how Mitchell is remembered.
The 59-year-old joked following his resignation that he would like a 20ft statue outside of the ground, while others have paid tribute to his determination as AFC Bournemouth chairman, including club legend Steve Fletcher and manager Eddie Howe.
AFC Bournemouth director Adam Murry has publicly stated that he doesn’t believe that the Cherries would still exist if it wasn’t for Eddie Mitchell.
Mitchell was announced as AFC Bournemouth chairman in 2009, taking over the club as part of the Murry Group, who had purchased the club from Sport-6, less than a year after the club had exited administration.
The change in ownership didn’t start well with AFC Bournemouth Supporters Trust Directors David Musker and Derek Timoney believing that the deal was ‘far from being in the best interests of the club’. (Musker & Timoney release statement – June 13 2009)
Mitchell had previously been in charge of local non-league side Dorchester Town and a conflict of interests followed Mitchell around for the first few months of his tenure. (Cherries Chairman: I’m committed to Dorchester – June 23 2009)
But after the Cherries avoided relegation out of the football league following a 17 point deduction, the fight for survival continued off the pitch and Mitchell soon got stuck in with his infamous style. (AFCB Chairman Statement – August 28 2009)
The Cherries were still subject to winding up petitions and transfer embargoes, but within a year of taking over the Cherries were promoted from League Two. (Howe: Mitchell has been fantastic – April 19 2010)
Near back to back promotions were clinched, despite losing Eddie Howe to Burnley mid-season. The Cherries only missing out on a play-off final due to a penalty shoot-out defeat to Huddersfield. (Mitchell: We don`t want to break up the squad – May 20 2011)
When that squad was sold off one by one, Lee Bradbury was tasked with rebuilding the side, a task which was made much easier in October 2011 when Mitchell brought Russian businessman Maxim Demin into the Cherries boardroom as 50-50 owner. (Mostyn & Sly sell stake in AFC Bournemouth – October 27 2011)
Off the field and investment was made into the infrastructure of the club.
The car parks in Kings Park were developed, the facilities at Dean Court were improved (Cherries Open Day Review & Pictures – September 11 2011), a training ground was build within a stones throw of the stadium (Cherries open new training ground – August 4 2012), the club shop was extended and a new semi-permanent South stand built in time for a pre-season friendly against nine time European Champions Real Madrid. (Photos – Cherries New Club Store Open – July 21 2013)
All changes that returning manager Eddie Howe has dubbed as innovative.
On the pitch, the club has moved from League Two and 89th place in the Football League pyramid, to the Championship and 26th in the pyramid.
The club has been transformed both inside and out. Some sections of the supporters will argue whether that change is for the good or bad, but the change is itself is certainly unquestionable.
However, Mitchell will also be remembered for his PR disasters.
He often made headlines, but none more so then in September 2011, at a heated BBC Radio Solent forum when he swore a number of times on live radio and told supporters that if they didn’t like the way he was running the club to ‘go and support Southampton’. (Mitchell: Go and support Southampton – September 2 2011)
Just weeks later Mitchell made headlines again when he walked out on to the pitch after the sides 3-0 home defeat to Chesterfield. He proceeded to invite one support on the pitch for ‘chat’ whilst shouting incoherently at chanting supporters. (Mitchell rant makes headlines – September 11 2011)
In February 2012 following reports of Irena Demin, wife of Cherries co-owner Maxim Demin going into the dressing room during the half time team-talk, Mitchell swore live on BBC 5live’s 606 programme. (Mitchell: I have no great vocabulary – February 27 2012)
In September last year Mitchell approached supporters following a home defeat. With supporters calling for Paul Groves to be sacked as manager, Mitchell was again caught swearing at supporters, with the incident ending with Mitchell being hit with a programme and associate director Dave Roberts being restrained inside the Dean Court reception following an angry exchange with one supporter. (Mitchell confronts protesting supporters – September 30 2012
Mitchell split opinion throughout his four years in charge of AFC Bournemouth and will no doubt, continue to split opinion in his absence.
It’s easy to join AFCB Vital