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Ivor's interview: part one

31 May 2013

Commercial Director on striking new deals

AFC Wimbledon’s commercial team have wasted no time in getting the club’s major sponsors on board for season 2013/14.

revealed that Nongshim and Your Golf Travel, two companies that sponsored the Dons last season for the first time, are ready to join the rest of the club's existing sponsors in committing for next season. Ivor added that the club are also working hard on concluding other new deals.Ivor Heller, Commercial Director Dons PlayerDuring an interview for

Almost 11 years since Ivor pioneered that valuable deal with Sports Interactive, one of AFC Wimbledon’s founder members updated us on commercial activity at the club at the current time. We today publish the first part of Ivor’s interview, which appeared on Dons Player yesterday, and the other part will follow on Monday.

What were the major successes from a commercial perspective during 2012/13?

I think everyone knows that these are challenging economic times and we had a struggle at the start of the season in trying to get a sponsor for what is now known as the Nongshim Stand. With the stand not being finished on time I think people struggled to visualise what was on offer and that caused us problems. But it was a spectacular success in the end with Nongshim providing great sponsorship and holding events at the club.

Think Folio were also good sponsors for a couple of years, but unfortunately they pulled out just two days before the deadline for sending the shirts to print. However, we then managed to forge a new relationship with Your Golf Travel. Our old sponsors continuing to firmly support the club is every bit as important for our success though and last season turned out to be a good one for us in the end.

Looking at those new sponsorship deals in particular, can you provide us with an insight into how we pulled those deals off?

In terms of the Nongshim deal, Sam Grayson (Commercial Executive) and I had been talking to Korea Foods for some time and working with them on various projects. They were involved in several activities with us, including holding their Christmas party at the club. We gradually introduced them to the idea that they could become major sponsors of the club and they responded to that. We ended up doing a deal with Nongshim, who are driven by Korea Foods.

Your Golf Travel (YGT) responded to an article in which we wanted people to get involved with the club. Your Golf Travel indicated that they were interested and we invited them down to the club and showed them a good time. Andrew Harding, who is Managing Director at Your Golf Travel, is a long-time Wimbledon supporter and he loves the club. That partnership has since gone from strength to strength and so too has our relationship with Nongshim.

How many of our existing sponsors are on board for next season?

All the sponsors that we had on board last season are set to renew for next season. We are well down the road in terms of agreeing a deal with Nongshim for next season. Though that is not yet official, it looks likely to happen, and the same goes for Your Golf Travel. There are also several other projects that we are working on at the moment.

Although we have heard all about new sponsorship deals, just how important has it been to keep companies such as Sports Interactive on board?

season with one sponsor and that is amazing. It only feels like yesterday when I was sitting on a platform with Miles Jacobson of Sports Interactive and introducing him to our fans and the We are coming up to our 12 Our commercial relationship with Sports Interactive must be one of the longest running sponsorship deals for a first-team in British football.

To still be working with Sports Interactive all these years later and to have as close a relationship with them now as we did then shows that we must be doing something right. Without the sponsorship from companies such as Sports Interactive, Cherry Red Records and Paul Strank Roofing we would not be in the position that we are in today.

How beneficial are the relationships that don’t perhaps generate such high level s of revenue, such as the club’s presence at the Wimbledon Village Fair?

The Wimbledon Village Fair (this year on Saturday, 22 June) is an event that we started attending in the first year of the club. It is a fantastic advert for the club because a lot of our fans turn up and wear the club colours. It is a great place for us to be because the heart and soul of the Wimbledon community are there. It is an important way for us to do our work at a community level, but also to showcase what the club can bring to businesses in Wimbledon.



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