NEW chairman Eddie Mitchell has placed Cherries’ unpaid staff at the top of his lengthy ‘to-do’ list.

Mitchell, who stepped down as chairman of Dorchester Town last week, was confirmed as the Dean Court club’s new chief after the Murry Group’s takeover was officially ratified yesterday.

Mitchell is joined on the Cherries board by son-in-law Neill Blake, Adam Murry, Jeff Mostyn and Steve Sly, and immediately made the club’s long-suffering workforce his main priority – despite HM Revenue and Customs petitioning for the club to be wound up.

The Poole-based property magnate told the Echo last night: “We have to bring people’s wages up to speed. People can’t live without wages so that has to be our priority.

“We can’t expect people to come to the club at 9am and leave at 5pm unless they are getting a wage. What’s the point in paying the winder and not having any staff? It would all collapse anyway.

“We’ll sort the staff out first and approach the winder after paying the staff.

“They have been very sincere staying at the club despite being paid nothing and I think the previous regime should have done more to look after them. They are ‘the club’ at the end of the day.

“I wouldn’t have let the situation get like that and if I have anything to do with it, it won’t get like that again.”

When asked if funds were in place to settle the HMRC petition, Mitchell said: “There is money in the club to keep things going no problem. We’ve got to spend that money wisely though and we do have to stave off the winding-up petition.

“Whether we contribute the whole lot in one go or try and reach an agreement with HMRC, I’m not sure.

“But I think the latter would probably be better because we have lots of cleaning up to do from the previous year. Lots of cleaning up!”

Mitchell has also vowed to open talks with boss Eddie Howe over a new contract after confirming he sees the young manager as part of the club’s “framework”.

He added: “Eddie’s contract is an obvious topic for discussion. I met him before he went away on a course, but only briefly.

“I’d be very disappointed if we couldn’t reach an agreement and he decided not to stay.

“He seems very level-headed and we agreed to sit down and sort something out as soon as he gets back. He’s good for the club so there is no reason why we can’t do something.”

  • See tomorrow’s Echo for a full interview with Eddie Mitchell.