Goodison Park: A Great Venue For Far More Than Just Football | Sodexo prestige
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Goodison Park: A Great Venue For Far More Than Just Football

25-05-2013

From weddings to conferences, parties to match day hospitality, the Sodexo Prestige team at Everton ensures Goodison Park is a great venue for far more than just football.

Home to one of football’s most well-loved teams, Everton Football Club, Goodison Park is used to catering for visitors in their thousands.

However, the stadium is an increasingly popular venue on non-match days, too, with companies and organisations in search of memorable and inspiring meeting space as well as with brides looking to add something blue to their big day.

Goodison

Goodison Park has nine different conference and events suites, which can cater from two to 300 people, making it the perfect venue for everything from small meetings to large scale conferences and product launches.

It also boasts a number of executive, pitch-side boxes with uninterrupted views of the hallowed turf - which are ideal for smaller meetings, lunches or dinners – and guests can also combine business meetings with a dinner and a tour of the famous stadium.

The catering at the Everton ground is managed by the UK’s leading food and facilities management company Sodexo Prestige, and Executive Head Chef Gareth Billington 45, heads the 32-strong catering team.

“The joy of working at Everton is that every day is different,” he said. “The sheer variety of functions, conferences, weddings and corporate events gives us plenty of challenges and the opportunity to push our creative boundaries.”

However, it is football for which Everton is most famous and on match days the catering team serves around 1550 meals and approximately 4200 pints to fans in the public areas of the stadium.

“The atmosphere here on match days is fantastic,” said Gareth “and this is when our skill at serving large numbers of people without compromising service or quality really comes into its own.”

Such is Goodison Park’s popularity that the stadium is busy even on non-match days.

It holds regular sportsman’s dinners with footballing legends such as Neville Southall, Joe Royle and Duncan Ferguson and last year held around 1200 conferences for public and private sector companies in sectors such as utilities, NHS, education and recruitment.

In addition to that, it was the venue for 1000 private parties and 70 funerals – not to mention weddings with, 11 last year and around 25 booked for this year so far. Alex Young Suite Wedding Reception

“An increasing number of couples are discovering Everton is the perfect setting for a love match,” said Jacqui Boyle, sales and marketing manager at Sodexo Prestige at Everton Football Club.

“We’ve had fans coming from far and wide to tie the knot at the stadium and that this year’s bookings are already more than double those of last year is undoubtedly down to the quality of the service we provide and to the food – which is always beautifully cooked and presented whatever the couple’s budget.”

Christmas, too, is a popular time of year at Goodison Park as friends and families flock to the stadium to celebrate over traditional, festive fayre in a vibrant, party atmosphere.

Last Christmas the team served 1600 covers – 250 more than the previous year – and increased revenue by 33% - showing how integral catering and events are at the premier league ground.

They also served 3300 covers at their ever-popular away match screenings – a 200 per cent increase on the previous year.

“There is always such a wonderful atmosphere at Goodison Park that even if you’re not a die-hard football fan, the ground really is very special,” said Jacqui.

“However, our reputation is such that we are increasingly in demand to cater for outside events and we are happy to do that as it shines a much-deserved spotlight on the skills of Gareth and his team.”

As well as providing for a wide range of match day and corporate events at Goodison Park, Gareth, a father of two, from Liverpool, who trained at London’s The Garrick Club and was also formerly in charge of patisserie on the QE2 cruise liner, successfully catered for a string of high profile events over the past year. 

Gareth Bilington

Not only was he in charge of two restaurants and a number of food outlets at Royal Ascot last year but he also led the catering at Lord’s cricket ground during the Olympics 2012 archery competition and cooked for the Paralympic contestants at London’s Olympic stadium.

So it was only fitting that his efforts were rewarded and last year he was named Sodexo UK and Ireland Unit Chef of the Year at the company’s annual Star Awards ceremony.

And that gave his team at Goodison Park – which already serves around 34,000 glasses of Champagne a year – the perfect opportunity to pour a few more.


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