Bill Kenwright: Everton chairman and theatre producer dies aged 78

Everton chairman Bill Kenwright, an acclaimed West End theatre and film producer, has died at the age of 78.

Kenwright had surgery to remove a cancerous tumour from his liver eight weeks ago.

He had been on the board at Everton since 1989, taking over as chairman at Goodison Park in 2004.

The Liverpudlian was also one of the UK’s most successful theatre producers and played Gordon Clegg in Coronation Street between 1968 and 2012.

Kenwright was awarded a CBE for his services to film and theatre in the 2001 New Years Honours List.

Everton said it was “in mourning” following the death of Kenwright, who was the club’s longest-serving chairman for more than a century.

“The club has lost a chairman, a leader, a friend, and an inspiration,” Everton added.

On 12 October, the Premier League club said Kenwright had a cancerous tumour removed from his liver six weeks before.

Everton said the operation was “completely successful”, but complications meant Kenwright required a “prolonged period in an intensive care unit”.

Announcing his death on Tuesday, Kenwright’s family said he “passed away peacefully” on Monday night “surrounded by his family and loved ones”.

“Bill was driven by his passions and devoted his life to them; his deep love of theatre, film, music and his beloved Everton, and the families they created,” the family said.

“He impacted the lives of thousands, whether that be through the launching of careers or his unending loyalty, generosity and unfaltering friendship and support.”

In a multiple award-winning career spanning six decades, Kenwright produced more than 500 West End, Broadway, UK touring and international theatre productions, films and music albums.

“We will remember him with huge love and admiration – the shows will of course go on, as he would have wished, and his towering legacy will continue,” his family added.

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.

However in April an Everton fans’ group called for Kenwright to be sacked and said it had “no confidence” in him as chairman with the club fighting against relegation.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.

More to follow.

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