Premier League club Everton football club have confirmed the passing of club chairman Bill Kenwright at the age of 78.
Having joined the Toffees’ board in 1989, Kenwright went on to become chairman in 2004 by succeeding Phillip Carter.
A statement from the club said: “Everton is in mourning following the death of chairman Bill Kenwright, 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 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 six 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.”
Kenwright spent 19 seasons as Everton chairman, overseeing 12 finishes inside the Premier League top eight, including fourth place in 2005, while the Merseyside club were also FA Cup finalists in 2009.
Everton said he had led the club through “a period of unprecedented change in English football”.
In February 2016, Kenwright sold a 49.9% stake in the club to Iranian businessman Farhad Moshiri, who increased his shares to 94% in January 2022.
But with the club fighting against relegation last season, an Everton fans’ group called for Kenwright to be sacked and said it had “no confidence” in him as chairman.
Kenwright and the rest of the board of directors were unable to attend home games last season from January after what the club described as “threatening correspondence” was received before a game against Southampton.