Cutting remarks, making Sunderland 'a bit Ibiza' and his past life as a DJ: Charlie Methven is Sunderland 'Til I Die's big character
“This was a failed business.”
One of Charlie Methven’s first remarks in the second series of ‘Sunderland ‘TIl I Die’ is a cutting one - and one which is addressed deeply in episode one of the popular Netflix documentary.
The second instalment of the popular fly-on-the-wall show is released today, and follows Methven and owner Stewart Donald as they bid to turn around the club.
Unsurprisingly, the first episode focuses heavily on a tumultuous summer at the Stadium of Light as a host of players came and went amid sweeping off-field changes.
But there is little in the way of insight to the summer’s transfer dealings - which saw the likes of Jack Rodwell, Didier Ndong and Papy Djilobodji depart - with the focus instead on Donald and Methven as they bid to turnaround the club following back-to-back relegations.
A great deal of focus is placed on Methven and his bid to address some key issues at the club, and none take more prominence than the minority shareholder’s desire to change the pre-match music at the Stadium of Light.
And in episode one, supporters will see the extreme lengths to which Methven goes as he aims to ramp-up the atmosphere at the Black Cats’ home ground - in what proved a controversial move at the time.
First comes a meeting with key club staff, including representatives from the media and marketing teams, as Methven lays out his plans.
The then-Executive Director plays various samples of songs from his laptop - beginning with Sunderland’s traditional walk-out music.
“So this is Dance of the Knights, right?,” he asks.
“Which for some people has associations with glorious times past, for that period of time at the Stadium of Light where everything was going really well.
“My personal instinct is new start, fresh beginnings, new sound.”
Existing club staff then inform Methven that the classical song is part of the fabric at the club, having been part of the Stadium of Light build-up since its opening in 1997.
Methven then plays a sample from ‘Adagio for Strings’ by Tiesto to the staff - a song which was ultimately included in the club’s pre-match playlist as they sought a more ‘in your face’ atmosphere.
“This is how I did it when I was a DJ,” adds Methven.
“You’ve got to try and build people up, you’ve got to try and get the atmosphere building through your track.
“If you try and think of the atmosphere Chris [Waters, Supporter Liaison Officer] and I want in there, we want it to be rocking, a little bit mad, a little bit like Sunderland fans take pride in the fact this place is going to be a bit noisier, a bit more in your face.”
And in behind the scenes footage, supporters are able to see Methven test his new musical choices in a deserted Stadium of Light ahead of the season opener with Charlton Athletic.
Joined by PA announcer Frankie Francis, he heads into the bowl of the stadium and - armed with a walkie talkie - walks around the ground to sample how the music sounds from various spots, regularly gesturing to Francis to turn up the volume.
Explaining his musical choices to the Frankie and The Heartstrings frontman, Methven likens it to a ‘massive rave’ and says he wants things to sound a ‘bit Ibiza’.
He then heads into the away dressing room to see whether opposition teams will hear the new build-up music prior to the game.
Explaining the musical changes, Methven says: “This club recently went twelve months without winning a game at this stadium.
“If we’re going to get promotion from this division, we’re going to need to be winning two or three games a month here.
“We want this to be a place where away fans and players, when you go to Sunderland you get nowt. Everything is against you - the crowd are against you, the music is loud, the atmosphere is massive for the home team.
“That hasn’t been the case for the last ten years. What used to be an intimidating place has become a soft touch.
“If we’re going to have a successful season then Sunderland simply cannot afford to have the disastrous home record they’ve had in the last ten years. It has to become a fortress.
“I’m not saying the music is going to be the determining factor in that - the players and management are - but everything we can do to gain an advantage, we need to do.”