Promotion and relegation is a hotly debated topic with American soccer fans, There are staunch advocates on both sides of the fence that strongly defend their views. I’m not here to take sides on this topic, but I am here to share a pretty cool story that can only be achieved via promotion and relegation. And that we typically only ever see in soccer.
AFC Bournemouth is a professional football club in England that has been around since the late 1800′s. Nicknamed “the Cherries” because of the cherry-red striped shirts that the team played in and, perhaps more plausible, because Dean Court was built adjacent to the Cooper-Dean estate, which encompassed numerous cherry orchards.
In the club’s history, they have never been in the top flight of English football. In fact, things got so bad recently, that in 2008 that due to debts, they almost went out of business. Relegation to League 2 followed as did the threat of being kicked out of League 2 due to continuing financial problems and ownership issues. Things were looking very bleak for AFC Bournemouth.
A change in ownership followed and in the final home game of 2008-09, AFC Bournemouth guaranteed their Football League place by beating Grismby Town 2-1. The game winner came just 10 minutes from the final whistle. Ten minutes away from things potentially being very, very different than they are right now.
Cut to April 2015. With their 3-0 win against Bolton today, AFC Bournemouth is practically guaranteed promotion to the Premier League. They currently sit in second place in the Championship. Three points clear of Middlesbrough with one game to play. But they have a massive gulf in goal differential that would mean they would have to lose like 20-0 in their final match to not be guaranteed promotion. So let’s just go ahead and say that AFC Bournemouth will be in the Premier League next season.
This means that in six years time, Bournemouth went from being on the verge of extinction, to moving up the rungs of English football and now find themselves about to join the top flight for the first time in their history. That is an amazing story that is actually hard to fully grasp. Mark my words – this story will be told countless times in the coming days, weeks, months and most likely years.
So while I am not here to take sides in the pro/rel debate – this is a story that is supremely unique to soccer where pro/rel does exist. These stories don’t happen often and they are a great reminder of what makes this sport so special. Also a reminder that pretty much anything is possible. And another example of why this sport is so f&*%$n amazing.
Is this the greatest story in soccer anywhere in the world at the moment? I don’t know for sure. But it is my favorite story by far. And if I could be anywhere in the world on the final day of the current season, it would be in Bournemouth.
And lastly (for now), keep an eye out on their manager, Eddie Howe. He’s young and he might just be the best up and coming manager in England.