A BOURNE SAVIOUR
Big Interview with Jeff Mostyn, the man who kept Cherries in business
HAVE you ever sat there and found yourself wishing you could witness the moment when an ordinary, deserving family find out they have scooped the jackpot on the lottery?
Well, this is shaping up to be AFC Bournemouth’s National Lottery moment. Five balls are out, and their numbers match up. We’re waiting for that final drop – and we’ve all got a front row seat at what could become one of the best football stories for decades.
The Cherries came close to popping only as recently as 2008. Not once, as it happens. The club were within 24 hours of closure three times in a six-month period.The liquidators were waiting in a hotel round the corner, the game-hunting asset strippers eyeing up their prize as the vultures circled.
Jeff Mostyn wrote the cheque that kept Bournemouth, rusting in the Football League’s basement division, in existence back in 2008.
He’s got too much class to say it, but the simple fact of the matter is that the six-figure sum he signed off could yield a nine-figure replacement. Well over £130m, they’re saying. And the Premier League haven’t sold the overseas television rights yet.
The Premier League has never been more of a temptation, the £5.1 billion broadcast deal has sent English football into another stratosphere.
Businessman Mostyn was the man that told the desperately fearful fans that everything was going to be all right. With nine games to go, he can almost taste the payback.
“It would be the greatest fairytale since Hans Christian Andersen wrote his last one!” smiled the chairman, who only got involved ten years ago after being pestered for investment by then-manager and close friend, Kevin Bond.
“I’ve fallen in love with the club,” says Mostyn. “When I said yes, perhaps I didn’t know what I was getting myself into back in 2005 but, at the moment, I’m bursting with pride. Bursting. It’s amazing, it’s a meteoric rise and I’m so thrilled to have played even a small part.
“Am I starting to dream? Of course, but I am also a realist. It is a fantasy, when you think of where this club has come from in the last five years you would probably have to be a fantasist to think this club could ever even get into the Championship.
“You would be lying to say the recent TV deal announcement doesn’t mean anything – but we are not focused on the finances. Everybody dreams about the big pay day and, yes, it’s a big one. But I think about it for Maxim (Demin, owner). He is dedicated, committed and has spent an awful lot on this football club, but it’s not about the money - if you start to focus on the finances, you lose focus on where you are.
“I have been involved with the club for ten years. I'll be honest, that is the duration of my support. I'm a Manchester boy - City, of course. I have been a lifelong fan of the Blues but I only got involved with Bournemouth because my best friend was the manager and that I tend to be easily persuaded!
“We have had a taste of it, the attention and the A-list stars. Liverpool came here in the League Cup and it's whetted our appetite, I suppose. Forget the finances, that's the personal dream as far as I see it. It's not about
my little treats, it’s the bigger picture.
“I would like to think in the years I have been here, I have done my part in keeping the club afloat but I hope we do it for Maxim, the fans and those people who were there when it really mattered.
“To take Bournemouth to the Etihad? My God, that would be unbelievable. To bring them down here? Even better! Could you imagine? Shaking the Sheikh’s hand and showing them around our little place, special wouldn’t even come close. Two games against City – it’s stuff dreams are made of really.
“It’s so small here I would probably have to hold their suit jackets as there’s nowhere to hang them!”
Make no mistake, the tiny club’s dream with a backdrop of their basic 12,000 capacity stadium is close to becoming a reality. Admittedly still seen as the underdogs but in a division impressive manager Eddie Howe joked no-one wants to win, they arguably boast the least challenging of the title-chasers’ run-ins.
Their football is probably the best of them all, and their manager? Well, Mostyn believes they have a number one in their camp, regardless of the outcome of the title race.
“Can we do it? I honestly believe we can,” he said. “Last Friday at Fulham reassured me.The goals had dried up, but they are back. People thought the wheels had come off, but they haven’t.
“I think many of the neutrals following this want a smaller club up there. If we won promotion, make absolutely no mistake, we would be the smallest club to ever play in the Premier League, and probably ever would be.
“We feel the Premier League would be enhanced by a team like ours, and a club that have come from the lower echelons of the game that would know what it means to be in that company having come from where we have.
“Eddie Howe is the best manager in the Football League. Call me biased, call me what you want to, you’ll struggle to convince me otherwise!
“Before last week’s games with Wolves and Fulham, we were on a bit of a poor run. Eddie was asked the ques- tion recently about being five games without a win, what was Plan B? I love Eddie because he is so articulate. He answered ‘why would we need a Plan B when Plan A has taken us to the top of the division?’
“Some managers start to lose their cool when things aren’t going right, but Eddie is different. He has stuck to his guns and we continue to play what I describe as thoroughbred football.
“Am I worried we won’t be able to keep him if we don’t go up? No. Whatever will be, will be – he’s been with the club since he was ten. He is dedicated to us, he is as committed as anyone and wants to fulfil his dream of managing in the Premier League.
“I believe he will, and I believe it will be with AFC Bournemouth.”
IMPRESSIVE: Eddie Howe
START OF THE CLIMB: Bournemouth’s players celebrate with Jeff Mostyn after winning promotion from League Two in 2010, and chairman Mostyn in more formal pose
RED-HOT: Brett Pitman celebrates in last week’s 5-1 romp at Fulham