Bill Kenwright, the chairman and former owner of Everton Football Club and a hugely influential West End producer, has died at the age of 78.
A board member since 1989, Kenwright became Everton’s chairman and majority owner in 2004. In 2016 he oversaw the sale of 49.9% of the club – including half of his own stake – to Farhad Moshiri, who became majority shareholder two years later. Kenwright remained active at the club under Moshiri and was working towards the proposed sale of the Toffees to a new owner, 777 Partners.
Beyond football, Kenwright was a giant of theatre production, best known for the long-running Blood Brothers and the hugely successful Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. He also built his own music label, Bill Kenwright Records.
After undergoing surgery to remove a tumour several weeks ago, Kenwright was kept in intensive care, the club revealed at the time, but had returned home to continue his recovery.
In a statement on Tuesday, the club 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.
“Everton’s longest serving chairman for more than a century, Bill Kenwright led the Club through a period of unprecedented change in English football.
“A lifelong Evertonian, he became a board member on October 23, 1989, and then on Boxing Day 1999 his True Blue Holdings consortium acquired the Club. Initially vice-chairman, he succeeded his close friend Sir Philip Carter as Chair in 2004.
“In his 19 seasons as Chairman, the Club secured 12 top eight finishes, including a top four finish in 2005, a run to the 2009 FA Cup final and European qualification on 6 separate occasions.
“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.”