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Club News

Cherry Red Records

4 February 2021

As part of our series of interviews focusing on our club sponsors, BTPL Editor Chris Thorpe recently sat down with Iain McNay and Adam Velasco from Cherry Red Records to discuss the business’s involvement with the Dons and more…

So, guys, we’re here at Plough Lane. How did Cherry Red first become involved with AFC Wimbledon?

Iain: Well as a Wimbledon supporter, I go back nearly 50 years, the first game I went to was against Merthyr Tydfil in the Southern League and it’s interesting because Ian Cooke scored two goals, Dickie Guy played in goal, and of course I see these guys nowadays at most of the games and have a chat with them, it’s brilliant.

That was my first time at the old Plough Lane, I moved to Wimbledon from somewhere else and it was just me going down and checking out my local club – I pretty much caught the bug straight away!

I was a regular at Plough Lane and some of the away games for many years. So when AFC Wimbledon started 18 years ago, I went to the famous meeting at the Wimbledon community centre in which Kris Stewart said the immortal words “I just want to watch football” – of course Ivor (Heller) was sat on the platform as well. I also think Erik (Samuelson) and Trevor (Williams) were there too.

And that was when the decision was made to start the club, and of course Ivor, Marc Jones, Trevor and Erik put a lot of work into getting things together in such a short space of time.

I missed the first couple of games of that first season, but I went to most of the others and from day one I was a committed supporter.

From day one Cherry Red had a sponsorship deal in place to sponsor what was called the President’s Lounge and we did that for the first two or three years and then I said to Erik, “why don’t we sponsor the stadium?” And that’s how it all started.

Of course we sponsored the stadium for the best part of 15 years, but to cut a long story short, the reason we as a business got involved with the club was because I was and am, still a fan of the club.

Would you say the relationship between Cherry Red and the club has become a bit more personal over the years?

Iain: Yeah, it’s interesting because at the old Plough Lane, I didn’t know so many people, you know I had my season ticket and I obviously knew people around me at games. I would go into the player’s lounge afterwards and chat with a few people – funnily enough I knew Terry Eames and his wife, of course our first manager as AFC Wimbledon, from when we were at Selhurst Park.

So I knew certain people, but I knew maybe 30 or 40 Wimbledon supporters back then. I now know a lot more and that’s mainly due to the whole friendly atmosphere at AFC Wimbledon. It's so easy to meet people here as everyone has such enthusiasm for this club.

Essentially the relationship between Cherry Red and AFC Wimbledon started very early and we became synonymous with the club. When we started to sponsor the stadium a lot of the people we deal with knew about our connection with the club. I can’t say we sold anymore records because of that as it’s probably not true but what I can say is that an awful lot of people were so enthusiastic about the fact that we were involved with Wimbledon. In some ways they were impressed because we were backing something that was exciting and new.

So many people admire AFC Wimbledon for the journey we’ve been on as a fan owned club, we all know the history behind it all – it was something that Cherry Red was proud to be involved with, and that's still the case.

Adam: Yeah exactly, from customers to clients to artists, it does seem to be everybody’s second favourite team, as such amongst people who are not fans.

It’s great because so many people are wanting to come along to games, and that was still the case even in the non-league days – and of course we saw even more interest once the club progressed to League Two.

While we might not have sold more records, we have garnered a lot of interest in the club and have introduced people to Wimbledon that have gone onto become season ticket holders and they’ve become fans of the club as well.

How would you say the move to Plough Lane will help Cherry Red as a business?

Adam: Well, it won’t be called the Cherry Red Records Stadium for a start (laughs)!

Iain: (Laughs) We got the petty cash out and tried to work out if we could find the money that Ivor wants in order for us to sponsor this stadium!

But no seriously, it’s going to be different here because something that people loved about the old ground at Kingsmeadow was that it had a rough and ready side to it – it was non-league, you could stand out by the car park and have a drink.

Obviously it will be different here, you know we just had a walk around – there are areas outside where you can have a drink, which will be good, there’s the fanzone and all the fancy dining that a lot of people will of course enjoy.

It means we’ll probably look to bring even more guests down here compared to what we did before, especially to start with. So many people will want to see the new stadium and we know that and we’ll be very proud to bring them down here.

I think we will have to look at the two grounds as being different and although this ground is much more beautiful in the way it looks, it certainly has a more different appeal and that’s what Cherry Red are good at doing, we’re very good at maximising what we have.

We’ll do well out of bringing people here and as Adam said we’ll introduce more and more new people to the club.

Adam: All I’ll say is that the most frequent question that I get asked by people who deal with the business is – “when is the stadium going to be open and can I come?”

So yeah, we’ll definitely be looking to bring a lot of people down and a lot of people who live locally have said that they’d love to come down and bring their kids, so hopefully we’ll help bring those new fans in as well.

Apart from a Wimbledon related song, which song would you say represents the club the best to you?

Iain: You’ve put us on the spot there (laughs)!

Adam: Okay we’ll come up with a Cherry Red artist.

Iain: Ah I’ve got one! One of the people that has come quite regularly to watch us, despite living in Manchester is Jah Wobble and he was the original base player in Public Image and that single, Public Image by Public Image Limited, is one of my all time favourite singles and the baseline he put into that was pretty much made on the spot. That is a show of spontaneity and I think that’s also the story of AFC Wimbledon, going where other clubs haven’t gone before and not only that, but having the confidence to stay with it and having the belief and passion to see it through.

And that’s a bit like what Wobble has done, he’s kept going, kept reinventing himself where necessary, and that’s just what AFC Wimbledon have done.

Adam: I’ve got one in mind now too. I would say a song that best sums up the club is that from the depths of despair, things can only get better by Howard Jones.

And I would say every season, everything that’s been in our way, we’ve got through and now we’ve taken this massive leap to the new stadium and things will get better and there are better days ahead for the club. So, I’d go for that song.

If you could get any Cherry Red artist to perform at Plough Lane, which one would you most like to see here?

Adam: Who would get the crowd going, that’s the question.

Iain: Suzi Quatro would do a good job of it; she has that tremendous energy and stage presence.

I’ll tell you who else would be a good choice for it, I know Mike Batt, who of course headed up The Wombles, he lives in Wimbledon.

Adam: I would also say maybe Hawkwind, Dave Brock is a big football fan, he does know about our Wimbledon connection and always asks about it - they’d definitely get the crowd going and would bring in a big audience for it as well.

Lastly, what would you say is next for you guys as a business as we head into 2021 and is there any incentives you can offer for Wimbledon fans?

Iain: We will think more about it going forwards, but we could offer discounts on what ever we have that is currently available for season ticket holders etc.

We’d be very happy to do some kind of incentive for season ticket holders, debenture holders and Dons Trust members, particularly on our CDs, as we are a company who very much believes in the physical product.

Funnily enough we were the only company to put out 60 football related CDs, we put out CDs for all the major clubs, for Wimbledon of course and they did really, really well for a time.

Of course more songs are streamed nowadays but we did have a number one single with Everton recently after they won their first three games of the season – what happened was their supporters got in touch and wanted us to reissue a track called Spirit of Blues, which is an old Everton track, which we happened to own the rights to and we did a download campaign which got it into the top 75, which is quite remarkable.

Adam: Number one in the download charts, which is brilliant.

Iain: We love this synergy between football and music, and we are always open to new ways in which it can take form.

Adam: Like the club, we’re growing, we’re positive about the future and we’re always interested in new ideas for new releases and labels.

Some of the best ideas we receive tend to be from music fans, so we’d love to hear from people if they have something in mind.

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