Everton chairman Bill Kenwright has died at the age of 78 following his battle with cancer, the club have announced.
Kenwright, who succeeded Sir Phillip Carter as chairman in 2004 after first joining the board at Goodison Park in 1989, had a cancerous tumour removed from his liver in August.
A statement on the club’s website said: “Everton Football Club is in mourning following the death of Chairman Bill Kenwright CBE, who passed away peacefully last night aged 78, surrounded by his family and loved ones…
“The club has lost a chairman, a leader, a friend, and an inspiration. The thoughts and prayers of everyone at Everton are with his partner Jenny Seagrove, his daughter Lucy Kenwright, grandchildren and everybody who knew and loved him.”
Everton owner Farhad Moshiri wrote his own tribute to his “great friend”, describing Kenwright as “a special soul, a man successful in so many different walks of life”.
“There can be no mistaking that Bill loved Everton football club,” Moshiri wrote. “He spoke with an infectious enthusiasm about every aspect of Everton, from the legends of yesteryear to his unconditional support for everyone that wears the blue shirt and represents the club…
“Bill loved Goodison Park, a stadium that held so many special memories but he also shared in an incredible vision for our new stadium and when the club moves in I don’t think anyone would have been prouder.
“The new Everton Stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock will provide an iconic new home for the club on the banks of the Royal Blue Mersey and will stand as a lasting legacy to his memory.”
Everton announced earlier this month that the surgery had been “completely successful”, but complications meant Kenwright needed a lengthy stay in an intensive care unit before continuing his recovery at home.
Liverpool-born Kenwright was a successful theatre and film producer when asked to join the Everton board in 1989.
He bought a majority 68 per cent stake in the club in 1999 and became deputy chairman before replacing Carter in his current role.
In June this year, Moshiri announced he had asked Kenwright to remain as chairman and help the club through a “period of transition”.
Kenwright had come under pressure from a section of fans who protested at how the club was being run.
It was announced last month that a deal to sell the club to American investment firm 777 Partners had been agreed.
The prospective new owners insisted last week that the takeover bid was still on track after it was reported they had failed to supply information to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and said the process was ongoing.
Players past and present paid tribute to Kenwright following the announcement of his death.
Former Everton forward Wayne Rooney, who broke through at Goodison Park as a 16-year-old, wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter: “Devastated to hear the sad news about Bill Kenwright.
“Known Bill since I was young and he’s had a huge impact on me as a person and my career. Great man and a big inspiration. Thoughts are with all Bill’s family and friends.”
Tony Cottee, an FA Cup runner-up with Everton in 1989, wrote on X: “So sad to hear of the passing of Bill Kenwright. Everton have lost a great Evertonian and I have lost a friend… RIP Bill”.
There was also a message from Jamie Carragher, who was a childhood Everton fan before his long association with Liverpool.
He wrote: “Really sad news this. A huge Evertonian who served and loved his club to bits. I’ll never forget his and Everton’s support every year around the Hillsborough memorial. RIP Bill.”
Liverpool were among the many clubs to pay their respects, with the Anfield side writing on X: “Rest in peace, Bill Kenwright.”
An X post from the Premier League’s official account read: “Our sincere condolences go to Bill’s family, friends, and everyone at Everton, at this sad time.”
Published: by Radio NewsHub