I'm a former Premier League striker – now I run a 10-bedroom B&B in York | The Sun
2nd March 2023

A FORMER Premier League striker told how he gave up football to run a B&B in York.

Sunderland legend Marco Gabbiadini, 55, embarked on the unlikely second chapter after giving up football at the age of 35.

His Bishops guest house, which he opened in 2003, is now recognised as one of the best B&Bs in York.

Marco told the Sun: "You have to have a plan for when you retire. And we had four kids who were under 11 at the time.

"I did my coaching badges, but being a manager wasn't what I envisaged doing for the rest of my life.

"My wife and I are both from York. A lot of footballers have that dilemma where their missus is from Liverpool or Southampton, so where do you end up?

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"And both are families came from the hotel and guest house business, so I suppose when you roll all those things together it wasn't a bad choice. After all, it's York's biggest industry.

"So we bought an ongoing business, because it would've been difficult to start something like this from scratch."

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A hands-on owner, Marco admitted that running the guest house is a hard job.

Sometimes he has to roll up his sleeves and do some manual labour around the building.

Marco said: "It's just like running a big family. The hardest thing is you've got to be flexible.

"We get up really early in the morning and you can still be waiting for people to check in at 11pm at night.

"You always have to have your shoes on, you always have to smart. We do have staff, but we live on site.

"And you have to always be prepared for anything. You can come into a room one day and someone's had an accident and spilled coffee on the mattress.

"Then, you have to quickly go to a shop, find a replacement mattress because the next person's checking in that afternoon.

"I cook breakfast some days and I'll do some of the handyman stuff, like bleeding radiators or fixing toilets.

"I can do most things – plumbing, painting and decorating, but we will also get the professionals in too.

"We've had family that have grown up in it, and now they're older they can run it when we go away."

Marco added that he and his wife Deborah are brutally honest with each other during the working day.

He said: "For us it is great, we're both people who like to get things off our chests.

"I was a bit like that in the dressing room too. It's better not to keep grudges, tell someone what you think.

"So, if I make a mistake or error, she'll tell me and vice versa."

The guest house itself has 11 big letting rooms, blending a mix of modern and classic in their decor.

Marco said: "The scale of the house allows us to have spacious rooms, our bigger rooms are 22 feet square.

"They've all got sofas in them, so we're going more high-end.

"When there's race meets, and during the summer, our bigger rooms can be from £140-£170 a night at the weekend.

"But midweek, we are flexible, and it's always best to book with us directly because we can do a better deal."

TripAdvisor can make-or-break any business, and with the bed and breakfast industry being so competitive in York, Gabbiadini keeps an eye on what's said about Bishops online.

Marco said: "It's bit like a footballer saying they don't read the sports pages in the paper.

"When you're a guest house owner, you DO read the TripAdvisor reviews!

"But it's Deborah's job to reply to everyone, she's the diplomat in the house."

It's better not to keep grudges, tell someone what you think

However, the reviews are mostly positive and it's earned the couple a string of awards in the process.

Marco said: "We've entered the York Tourism Awards 'Guest House of the Year' competition four times and won it three, which is pretty good going.

"You always going to get people that are going to be unhappy. But if you've got 600 or 700 reviews saying you're doing the right thing, then that's good too.

"It a British guest house is such a traditional thing. I think a really comfortable bed and good breakfast is the key to being successful.

"It's that simple really, but it's what's the most important."

As a player, Gabbiadini didn't win too many awards himself.

But one Third Division title with The Black Cats made him a hero at Roker Park.

And on the top floor, a painting of their former forward sits above a cabinet of a handful of golden boots from the lower divisions.

He told the Sun: "The painting was a gift from Bob Murray, the former chairman at Sunderland.

"When I left the club he gave that to me, it was a drawing of a couple of pictures of me, and it's lovely to be appreciated.

"I didn't win too many awards, but I think I won Player of the Season for my clubs six times and made over 700 appearances.

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