28 March ~ Another day, another drama at Bournemouth, as it was revealed yesterday that midfielder Donal McDermott has been charged with drink driving. McDermott's misdemeanour makes him the second squad member with criminal proceedings hanging over his head. It's fair to say the Cherries have lurched from crisis to crisis in recent months. The 22-year-old was arrested on Saturday and will appear before Bournemouth Magistrates' court next month. In January, defender Steve Cook was bundled away from a training session and arrested on suspicion of sexual assault. He was later bailed.
These arrests are not the kind of thing one would expect to happen at what chairman Eddie Mitchell claims is a "family club". Supporters were up in arms on Thursday when it was announced that 39-year-old club icon Steve Fletcher, who has made over 500 league starts for the club, had been loaned to Plymouth Argyle until the end of the season. Fletcher appeared at Wembley in 1998, scored in the 2003 Division Three play-off final and his late winner kept the club in the Football League in 2009.
There were rumours of a falling-out with manager Lee Bradbury. The day after Saturday's 1-0 defeat at Oldham Athletic, which was the club's sixth defeat in eight games, Bradbury left by "mutual consent". Mitchell, who was fined £1,500 for swearing on Radio 5 Live three times last month, told Sky Sports News that the manager had rejected an offer of extra personnel to work with, before rebuffing further questions and hanging up the telephone. Mitchell's name was soon trending worldwide on Twitter.
The League Managers Association released a statement yesterday that claimed his contract was "terminated by the club". Bradbury said: "I would like to take this opportunity to clarify the fact that I did not resign or leave by mutual consent, the chairman decided he wanted a change and I was dismissed."
This madness has been ignored by the organisation that should have been rubbing its hands with glee: the local newspaper. The Bournemouth Echo sports desk has been suspended indefinitely from reporting on the Cherries. The 112-year-old paper is to be commended for defending freedom of speech.
Mitchell attempted to dictate what they wrote, while Bradbury complained about their back page headline Immature, after he had branded the players exactly that himself. Both sides will suffer. The newspaper will lose readers and the football club will see a slump in attendances, while fans without internet access will lose touch.
The embarrassing nature of recent events has hurt supporters. Bournemouth do not usually achieve a great deal they but tend to be well respected. Carlisle manager Greg Abbott recently slammed the Cherries' long-ball tactics. The club has always been known for playing the game on the deck.
With credibility at an all-time low both on the field and off it, one has to wonder what will come next. The entire playing squad joining a cult? Changing the club crest to a picture of the chairman's face? Who knows. Somebody needs to get Bournemouth back on an even keel and begin to rebuild some bridges before it is too late. Andy Lloyd-Williams