AFC BOURNEMOUTH all but sealed promotion to English football’s top flight for the first time in the club’s history with a 3-0 victory over Bolton at the Goldsands Stadium last night.
Goals from Marc Pugh, Matt Ritchie and Callum Wilson means only a remarkable turnaround in fortunes can deny the south-coast side a place among the Premier League elite next season.
Second-placed Bournemouth are three points clear of Middlesbrough with only one game remaining, and the Championship’s top scorers would have to be the victims of a 19-goal swing on the final day of the campaign to be denied promotion.
Bournemouth’s ascent to the top table is a staggering transformation for a club that was only minutes from liquidation in 2008 and desperately scrapping to avoid relegation from the Football League just six years ago after a 17 point deduction.
The Cherries are still in contention to be crowned second-tier champions, lying just a point behind already promoted Watford, and face Charlton at The Valley on Saturday in their final game this term.
“We have achieved the impossible. We have gone from the abyss in League Two to the Premier League,” said chairman Jeff Mostyn.
Manager Eddie Howe added: “The club was on its knees six years ago, we had nothing. It is never a journey we expected to go on but through some hard work and some investment we managed to do it.”
TIMELINE: CHERRIES’ ASCENT TO PREMIER LEAGUE
■ February 2008: Bournemouth enter administration and suffer 10-point penalty. With debts in the region of £4m, the club flirts with liquidation. Relegation to League Two follows
■ April 2009: Under Eddie Howe, Football League status is preserved despite being docked 17 points for flouting Football League insolvency rules
■ November 2011: Russian oil billionaire Maxim Demin becomes co-owner with then-chairman Eddie Mitchell after purchasing 50 per cent share in the club. Demin assumes full control in September 2013 after Mitchell steps down
■ October 2012: Howe rejoins the south-coast club following a 21-month spell at Burnley
■ 20 April 2013: Bournemouth win promotion to the second tier of English football for only the second time in their history.
By Ayub Nouinou