February 25, 2024

Sky Sports News senior reporter Rob Dorsett:

“We all know Bill as someone synonymous with Goodison Park, for three decades. But actually, a lot of people outside of football knew him as a famous actor. He was in Coronation Street, and people may remember him from Z-Cars as well, which used to get tens of millions of viewers on a weekend.

“He did the unthinkable, of walking away from Coronation Street which no actor back then would do. He decided he had bigger fish to fry, but he went on to become this incredibly successful theatre producer, he made his millions in TV and theatre production, and you look at some of the shows he produced in the West End too.

“Joseph and the Technicolour Dreamcoat, Blood Brothers, Evita, West Side Story, some huge shows which are still around now. He was awarded a CBE in January 2001, as recognition for everything he’d done in the arts. He had a huge, successful, glamorous life outside of football which our viewers perhaps don’t remember or weren’t aware of because of his synonymousness with Everton.

“He’d been an Everton fan since birth, it was in his family and he was born in the Wavertree area of Liverpool, and he became involved in Everton more than 30 years ago. He took over the club with that 68 per cent share he bought in 1999, became chairman in 2004, and back then he was seen as a saviour by Everton fans. There were a lot of financial troubles, which we’re seeing similarly at the club now, that were there at the time.

“He made some hugely popular decisions too. He brought Duncan Ferguson back to the club, he gave Wayne Rooney his first contract, but controversially then sold him to Manchester United. A lot of fans didn’t like it but that was the financial reality he felt he was facing back then.

“He had this very successful time with Everton, perhaps the highlight was in 2005 after they reached the Champions League qualifiers. There were some really successful times, but also some more difficult ones of late. One of the saddest things for Bill Kenwright and his family was that in the last six or seven months, he hasn’t been able to visit Goodison Park because he was advised to stay away.

“I think that hit him and his family very hard, and he wrote to some of the fans and said it was one of the saddest things for him that he couldn’t be there with them. No-one could doubt his affiliation, his love and huge support of Everton Football Club.”

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