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Tributes flood in for Bill Kenwright following his death at the age of 78 – as Liverpool, Jamie Carragher and Wayne Rooney join the footballing world and beyond in saluting the former Everton chairman


Liverpool are among the clubs to pay tribute to the former Everton chairman and and legendary theatre producer Bill Kenwright who has died at the age of 78. 

Kenwright spent a prolonged period in intensive care after undergoing surgery to remove a cancerous tumour from his liver last summer before returning home two weeks ago.

He enjoyed an illustrious career in the theatre and was perhaps best known for the long-running West End hit Blood Brothers, which ran for 24 years in the West End. 

But it’s his long association and dedication to the blue half of Merseyside that made Kenwright a well known figure to most.   

Everton released a statement saying it was in ‘mourning’ following the death of the man who had been on the board since 1989, while their cross-town rivals sent a heartfelt message of condolence. 

Tributes have poured in from across the footballing world for former Everton chairman Bill Kenwright following his death at the age of 78

Tributes have poured in from across the footballing world for former Everton chairman Bill Kenwright following his death at the age of 78

Liverpool Football Club and Anfield legend Jamie Carragher shared their sadness at the news

Liverpool Football Club and Anfield legend Jamie Carragher shared their sadness at the news

‘Rest in peace, Bill Kenwright.’ The Reds wrote on X, formerly Twitter. ‘The thoughts of everyone at Liverpool FC are with Bill’s family, friends and everyone at Everton.’

Anfield legend and Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher also shared his sadness at the news, saying: ‘Really sad news this.

‘A huge Evertonian who served & loved his club to bits. I’ll never forget his & Everton’s support every year around the Hillsborough memorial. RIP Bill. 

Kenwright forged a love affair with the Toffees from an early age, inspired by his idol, the centre forward Dave Hickson. After taking a place on the board in 1989 he was made deputy chairman after buying a 68 per cent majority share of the club from Peter Johnson in 1999.

He succeeded Sir Phillip Carter as Everton chairman in 2004. A year later the Toffees secured a place in the Champions League qualifiers under the guidance of manager David Moyes.

He was persuaded to stay on in the role earlier this year by Farhad Moshiri, who Kenwright sold his stake to in 2016.

Bill Kenwright was a lifelong Evertonian and had been on the club's board since 1989

Bill Kenwright was a lifelong Evertonian and had been on the club’s board since 1989

Wayne Rooney hailed the 'huge impact' that Kenwright had on his footballing career

Wayne Rooney hailed the ‘huge impact’ that Kenwright had on his footballing career

Birmingham City boss and former Everton star Wayne Rooney hailed a ‘great man’ in his statement on Kenwright. Rooney burst onto the scene as a youngster exciting the Goodison Park faithful and was keen to highlight the impact of the former chairman in his development. 

‘Devastated to hear the sad news about Bill Kenwright.’ He said. ‘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.’

The EFL were among those sending their condolences. He is survived by his parter Jenny Seagrove,  one daughter from a previous relationship with stage and screen star Virginia Stride, as well as two grandchildren.

‘The EFL is saddened to hear of the passing of Bill Kenwright CBE.’ The statement read. ‘Our collective thoughts are with Bill’s family and friends, as well as everyone at Everton.’ 

Similar tributes were shared by former Everton midfielder Peter Reid and ex-Toffees academy player and Bristol Rovers boss Joey Barton.

Owing to Kenwright’s success in the theatre world, there were plenty of messages flooding in from those who encountered the former producer during their time on stage. 

Among them was Lord of the Rings star Sir Ian McKellen, who said he, like many actors, was in debt to Kenwright as well as insisting the industry would be ‘dimmer’ following his death. 

Former players, leagues and clubs joined to salute the former Everton chairman

Former players, leagues and clubs joined to salute the former Everton chairman

‘Like many grateful actors I am in debt to Bill Kenwright for employment.’ McKellen wrote. ‘”Frank & Percy” at his “The Other Palace” will be his last theatre production. And “The Critic,” will be his last film.

‘We were young together, when he was in Coronation Street and I was dipping a toe into Shaftesbury Avenue. Since then, I have admired the resilient way in which he encouraged theatre to thrive in London and in the regions.

‘Whether it was yet another tour of that wonderful musical “Blood Brothers” or sponsoring the Peter Hall Company in the classics. In private, Bill relished gossip and loved to reminisce.

‘He seemed to have known everyone in the business and to care about them. Yet every chat would vere round to his equal passion – Everton football. The city that gave us The Beatles and two major football teams, also bred a unique impresario.

Hollywood star Sir Ian McKellen paid a touching tribute to Bill Kenwright following his death

Hollywood star Sir Ian McKellen paid a touching tribute to Bill Kenwright following his death

‘Whether the West End lights will be turned off in his memory, certainly our business will be dimmer now he has gone.’ 

Kenwright’s stake eventually fell to 1.3 per cent back in 2018. He had become an unpopular figure with large sections of the club’s supporters amid Everton’s struggles on the pitch.

He published an open letter to fan groups earlier this year, denying claims his health issues had impacted the running of the club. He continued to carry out his duties up until his surgery in August.

This included working alongside Moshiri to facilitate the proposed takeover by the investment group 777 Partners and supporting the club’s football director Kevin Thelwell with its summer transfer activity. 



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