Bill Kenwright dead: Everton chairman and West End producer dies, aged 78, following battle with cancer


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 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.

A statement on behalf of Bill Kenwright Limited said: “Following a long battle with illness, Bill passed away peacefully last 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 statement continued: “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 multi-award-winning career spanning six decades, Bill produced over 500 West End, Broadway, UK touring and international theatre productions, films and music albums. His impact on the arts industry has been profound.”

Kenwright’s partner, actress Jenny Seagrove, said that she had lost her “darling Bill”. Liverpool-born Kenwright was a successful West End theatre and film producer when asked to join the Everton board in 1989.

After enjoying enormous success with popular hits including Blood Brothers and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, he became involved with his boyhood club. 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, Everton owner Farhad 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.

Sir Ian McKellen was among those who paid tribute.

Posting to X, formerly Twitter, Sir Ian, 84, wrote: "Bill Kenwright (1945-2023) Like many grateful actors I am in debt to Bill Kenwright for employment."

He added: "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.

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

Reporting by Press Association.