Sunderland AFC more than a football club

Have your say

THINK of Sunderland AFC and your first thought is understandably likely to be about football.

Competing in the Barclays Premier League, the club has been bringing the city together for generations, with tens of thousands of Wearsiders uniting in their love for the beautiful game.

But while the skill of its players on the pitch continues to be at the forefront of people’s minds, the club has developed quite a reputation for developing the skills of its workforce OFF the field.

In partnership with national training provider Employability and Skills Group, SAFC now operates the country’s biggest and most successful hospitality academy at a single venue, complementing a host of training and educational opportunities which are enabling hundreds of people across the North East to continue gaining new skills and qualifications.

With such commitment to training and development, the club is once again the proud sponsor of the training category at this year’s Sunderland Echo Portfolio Business Awards – fittingly held at its iconic Stadium of Light home.

Mandy Goulden, Sunderland AFC’s human resources manager, said: “Supporting an award which champions the development and progression of our region’s workforce is a very natural step for the football club.

“With more than 300 full and part-time staff of our own – and more than 1,000 employees on matchdays – training is a vital part of our business and we have seen the fantastic rewards of helping our staff to realise their potential.”

While the club operates its own courses, covering areas including health and safety, first aid, customer care, safeguarding and NVQs, its impressive stadium is also helping other businesses to shape their own programmes, with a diverse range of organisations utilising the venue’s purpose-built conference space to train their employees.

Gary Hutchinson, head of venue and events at SAFC, added: “Good training is so important. It can make staff feel so valued and motivated and in my experience, you really do get out what you put in.

“Building on the experiences we have had in training our own staff, we have created an ideal training environment within the Stadium of Light, using the draw of football to really engage people and to help businesses to make the most of their investment.”

To find out more about how Sunderland AFC can help to shape your training activities, please contact the dedicated sales team on 0871 911 1500 or e-mail

The Sunderland Echo Portfolio Business Awards will be presented at a ceremony at the Stadium of Light on Thursday, October 13.

For tickets, contact Sorted PR on 265 6111 or click here.

Twitter: @sunechobiz