An unlikely pairing between the football and business travel worlds is making waves in the industry today, as it is announced that the UK’s biggest independent travel agency, Hays Travel, is to recruit the former CEO of Newcastle United, Steve Walton.
The firm’s new non-executive director formerly worked at Barclays, where he ended up as head of corporate banking in the North East after spending more than a decade as the bank’s national director of football.
In 2007, Walton joined Newcastle United as chief executive, and subsequently went on to become CEO at Sunderland AFC, his home team, leaving them in June 2011.
Walton commented: ‘After three successful seasons with Sunderland I left the club for what I thought was permanent retirement… However, I have been seduced out of retirement to join the board of Hays Travel as a non-executive director. I have known John Hays [the managing director] for many years, both through my time at Barclays and at the football club.’
Hays said: “I’m delighted to be welcoming Steve on board. His experience in the financial and risk assessment fields is second to none and he is already adding value to the company. Culturally, too, Steve is our kind of person, and he has fitted straight in.’
Hays Travel has 43 shops and an annual turnover of £500m.