Gary Neville to headline Sunderland Business Festival

19 September 2023

Footballer turned successful entrepreneur Gary Neville has been announced as the headline speaker for Sunderland Business Festival 2023.

A fire-side chat with the former Manchester United and England fullback will take place on Wednesday, October 11, as part of the three-day festival, comprising a programme of business events, sessions and seminars taking place across the city.

Gary will discuss his business career and how the leadership skills that led him to being captain of one of the biggest clubs in the world helped him become one of the UK’s most high profile business people.

During a glittering 20-year career working under the inimitable Sir Alex Ferguson, Gary was acknowledged as one of the greatest footballers of his generation. Now working for Sky Sports, he is one of the nation’s favourite pundits – and an extremely successful businessman.

Having started out as a property developer while playing for United in his early 20s, Gary has continued with an entrepreneurial passion, building a business empire with a portfolio that spans property, hospitality, education, media and sport.

His Stock Exchange Hotel is one of the top hotels in Manchester; his University (UA92), is disrupting a traditional model; his £400m St Michael’s project is one of the landmark property developments in Manchester City Centre; and he will appearing as guest star on the upcoming series of Dragons’ Den.

Gary said: “I’m hugely passionate about the North.  All the businesses I run are based here, and I believe we’ve got a thriving business community and I’m really pleased to be part of a brilliant line-up of events in a Northern city that demonstrates such ambition and vision.

“I’m looking forward to sharing the experiences and stories from across my career and in business.”

Sunderland Business Festival, which is running for a third successive year, aims to inspire enterprises from across the region, with a host of engaging speeches and sessions from high-profile business leaders.  The event will take place from October 10–12 at venues across Sunderland.

In Conversation with Gary Neville will take place at the Auditorium at The Fire Station on Wednesday, October 11 at 10.30am.  It is part of a day being sponsored by the University of Sunderland. 

Professor Lawrence Bellamy, Academic Dean, Faculty of Business, Law and Tourism, said: “We’re delighted to be sponsoring this fantastic Festival, and supporting a packed programme of business events to the city, including what will be a fascinating talk with Gary Neville. As well as being a leader during his playing days, Gary has proven to be a shrewd businessman, with an ever-growing portfolio.

“Add to that his energetic and engaging style of communication, I’m sure this will be a brilliant event with plenty of take-aways for business people from the city and beyond.

“Sunderland Business Festival is a fantastic showcase of this area as a place to do business and we’re delighted to be at the heart of that.”

The full festival line-up will be announced over the coming weeks – details will be available at  

The festival is being organised by Sunderland Business Partnership, a collective of organisations – large and small – all with an interest in the city’s development, creating opportunities for members to collaborate and grow, which in turn helps Sunderland to be a more dynamic destination for business.

Rob Lawson, chair of Sunderland Business Partnership, said: “We’re thrilled to have secured someone of the calibre of Gary Neville for this year’s Sunderland Business Festival.

“He is one of the most recognisable business people in the country and I’m sure the discussion will be fascinating. I recommend anyone wanting to go secures their tickets quickly, as I’m sure it will be hugely popular.”

Tickets for the event go on general sale on Monday 11th September at 5pm. Priced at £25+booking fee they can be bought from