‘Bill Kenwright was a force of nature’ says Moshiri

Everton FC majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri remembers chairman Bill Kenwright calling him a ‘force of nature’ and a ‘special soul’ amid numerous other tributes from the worlds of football and showbiz. Tony McDonough reports

Bill Kenwright
Everton chairman Bill Kenwright who died in October 2023, aged 78


Everton FC chairman Bill Kenwright, who died this week aged 78, was a “force of nature” and a “special soul”, according to the club’s majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri.

Mr Moshiri, who is on the verge of selling his 94% stake in the club to US investment outfit 777 partners, said it was Mr Kenwright who first persuaded him to invest in Everton 10 years ago.

On Monday, Mr Kenwright died surrounded by his family, including his longtime partner, actress Jenny Seagrove. Two weeks ago he underwent emergency surgery to remove a cancerous tumour. But he was unable to recover from the illness and operation.

He made his name and his fortune in the theatre world and was the producer behind hundreds of West End and Broadway hit shows. But football, Everton FC in particular, was his first love.

Mr Kenwright’s passing this week was followed by numerous tributes from the worlds of football and showbiz.

He became a board member of Everton FC on October 23, 1989. 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 19 seasons 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.

In 2016, Mr Kenwright sold half of his stake in the club to British-Iranian businessman Farhad Moshiri – though he stayed on as chairman. Mr Moshiri continued to increase his stake.

Speaking after Mr Kenwright’s death, Mr Moshiri said: “I am deeply saddened by the news of the passing of my great friend Bill.

“Bill was a force of nature and he certainly changed my life nearly 10 years ago when he first spoke to me about getting involved with the club he adored.

He told me about this incredible club, a club that not only has history and heritage but was also a beating heart of our community and for that I will always be grateful.

“He was very persuasive and I invested both into that football club, and also into becoming part of it and joining a new family.

“There can be no mistaking that Bill loved Everton Football Club. He spoke with an infectious enthusiasm about every aspect of Everton, from the legends of yesteryear to his unconditional support for everyone that wears the blue shirt and represents the club.


Farhad Moshiri
Everton FC majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri has paid tribute to Bill Kenwright
Bill Kenwright
Everton FC players pay tribute to chairman Bill Kenwright who has died aged 78
Bill Kenwright
Floral tributes were left outside Goodison Park following the death of chairman Bill Kenwright


“He admired the hard work, dedication and effort of every member of staff across the club and Everton in the Community but most of all he recognised and empathised with the passion, loyalty and support all the Everton teams have had from Evertonians be that at home, away or abroad.

”Bill loved Goodison Park, a stadium that held so many special memories but he also shared in an incredible vision for our new stadium and when the Club moves in I don’t think anyone would have been prouder.”

Mr Moshiri said the club’s new £750m stadium at Bramley Moore-Dock would “stand as a lasting legacy” to Mr Kenwright’s memory.

He added: “On a personal level I will no longer miss hearing his voice on the end of a telephone many times each day, talking about players, plotting how the club can do better and better.

“Regardless of the natural unpredictability of our game and the associated ups and downs – my friendship with Bill has always remained strong.

“He was a special soul, a man successful in so many different walks of life. We will miss him but never forget him. Our thoughts and best wishes go out to his family at this sad time. Rest in peace my friend.”

Born in the Liverpool suburb of Wavertree, Mr Kenwright attended the Liverpool Institute High School for Boys from 1957 to 1954. He appeared in Coronation Street in 1968 as businessman Gordon Clegg.

He made other sporadic TV appearances as an actor but Mr Kenwright made his name as one of the UK’s most successful theatre producers.

His string of West End hits included Willy Russell’s musical Blood Brothers, and Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

Mr Kenwright was awarded a CBE in the 2001 New Year’s Honours List, for services to film and theatre. But for all those great achievements, it was football and Everton where his heart lay.

In the months leading up to his death, he said: “I’m still watching lads who wear a blue shirt and when that ball goes in the net there is nothing like it. Not a first night, not a Tony award. Nothing.”

Former Everton striker Duncan Ferguson, who made more than 250 appearances for the club across 10 years in two spells, paid tribute to Kenwright. He also served as his caretaker manager at Goodison Park on two separate occasions.

He wrote: “I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Everton chairman and true Blue, Bill Kenwright. He loved the club with a passion and he loved the players who wore the famous Royal Blue shirt, every one of them.

“None more so than The Cannonball Kid, Dave Hickson, his childhood and forever hero. He was my chairman for many years and a confidante. You were loved, Bill, and you will be missed. Rest In Peace. God bless, Dunc.”

Everton’s current manager Sean Dacha added: “His influence in bringing me to Everton in the first place was important and I have nothing but gratitude and respect for his unwavering support of myself, the staff and our players.

“It was a pleasure to share the moment of reaching our objective last season with him – a moment I know he felt so strongly about after such an arduous season, on and off the pitch.

“His story – a boyhood supporter who went on to become chairman – is something so rare in the modern game, especially at the top level.”

Former Everton players Mikel Arteta and Leon Osman also offered their tributes. Arteta, now manager at Arsenal, said: “I had a really personal and strong relationship with Bill.

“I cannot be more grateful for the way he treated me, the advice he always gave me and how close he and his family were with me. I know he has been through a lot in the past few years and his passing is a big loss for Everton and for me personally as well.”


Duncan Ferguson
Former Everton strike and caretaker manager Duncan Ferguson
Megan Finnigan
Everton FC Women’s captain, Megan Finnigan


Osman, now a TV pundit, added: “He was a man who just loved the club, through and through. You could tell that from the minute you met him, you probably thought he was a fan first and chairman second.

“He was a man that made every decision with real passion and drive for the football club. He was a man that wanted to be a part of your life. As a player he wanted to get to know you but never overstepped the line by coming into the dressing rooms. 

“You measure people by how they treat people and he always made you feel like you were the centre of their world. That’s an art. When you talk about Everton as The People’s Club, you think of that man.”

Everton FC Women’s captain, Megan Finnigan, said: “Bill Kenwright epitomised the values of our football club. His love for Everton was impossible to ignore. He was a family man – and those connected to Everton were his family, too.

“The chairman has been involved with the club for as long as I can remember. He helped to move Everton forward, drive change and wanted nothing more than to see our club succeed.

“Our deepest condolences go out to his family, friends and everyone who knew him at this incredibly sad time.”

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