It is with great sadness and regret that Wolverhampton Wanderers today announce the passing of Sir Jack Hayward OBE, the Club’s legendary former owner, Chairman, Life President and one of the country’s great philanthropists.
Sir Jack, who was 91 years of age, had been ill for several months and passed away in Fort Lauderdale on 13th January, 2015.
Wolves would like to extend its deepest and most sincere condolences to Sir Jack’s wife, Lady Hayward, his companion of many years, Patti Bloom, and all his family and friends at home and across the world.
Born close to Molineux, Sir Jack Hayward was a Wolves fan from an early age and his deep affection and passion for all things Wulfrunian and British never faded. As a young boy, Sir Jack used to crawl under Molineux’s turnstiles to grab a glimpse of his heroes and he retained this passion as a true Wolves supporter throughout his life.
The Bahamas-based multi-millionaire and renowned philanthropist gave huge backing to many good causes over the years. During Sir Jack’s 17-year ownership of Wolves, his vision and financial backing transformed a decaying Molineux into one of the first, and finest, all-seater stadiums in the Country.
He gave successive managers money to spend on players, before in May 2003, his dream was realised as Wolves at last regained top-flight status, though it proved to be for only one season.
In the summer of 2007, he passed on the baton to current Chairman, Steve Morgan, handing over the Club for just £10 in return for a £30 million investment into Wolves. This remains one of the most remarkable and generous acts, from any owner, in any sport.
That selflessness paid off two years later when the investment played a big part in Wolves winning the Championship and, once again, returning to the top flight, where they remained for the following three seasons.
Steve Morgan said: “Wolves are a family and we’re united in mourning at the loss of one of the Club’s, and the City’s, most cherished sons. Our most sincere condolences go out to Sir Jack’s loved ones at this very sad and difficult time.
“Sir Jack always said to me that he was a custodian of the Club during his ownership, he was merely looking after Wolves for the supporters.
“That philosophy shone through during his 17-year ownership of Wolves. Rather than trying to recoup some of his own huge outlay, he handed over Wolves in such a way that it secured even more investment into the Club.
“That kind of philanthropy didn’t only extend to Wolves, of course. The purchase of Lundy Island for the National Trust and his huge donation to help re-build a Hospital after the Falklands War, were just some examples of where he made a real and long lasting difference to causes close to his heart.
“A few months ago Sir Jack visited the Wolves Museum and was shown his own tribute in the Hall of Fame. When asked to sign the visitors’ book, his message was simple: ‘Glad to have helped.’
“That was the measure of the most generous, humble and special gentleman you could ever wish to meet. And the reality is we may never see his like again.
“On behalf of everyone connected to Wolverhampton Wanderers: thank you, Sir Jack. You’ll never be forgotten.”
Jez Moxey, Wolves’ Chief Executive, said: “We’re devastated at the loss of Sir Jack and, on behalf of everyone connected to the Club, our hearts go out to Patti and his family.
“Sir Jack was more than just my boss for a period of time, in the same way he was so much more than simply a Chairman to our legions of loyal supporters.
“Over the years he became a great friend and mentor, not only to me and my family but to many, many people associated with the Club and the City.
“He was one of this country’s great, eccentric characters, philanthropists and football supporters who combined huge commercial vision in his business interests with the desire to put something back into his community and to make a real difference to the causes he loved.
“Wolves was obviously one of his greatest passions and he still retained the same love for the Club – the same glint in his eye – that he had as a youngster climbing underneath Molineux’s turnstiles, despite the inevitable ups and downs associated with running a football club.
“He was a truly special man and retained to the end enormous optimism, conviction and enthusiasm for Wolves always tuning in live to watch or listen to the matches regardless of where he was in the world or what time of day or night it was.
“We’re all united in mourning but at the same time it’s a moment to celebrate his life and achievements, a life painted in bright colours, which made a huge difference to so many people at home and abroad.
“It’s a time to reflect on everything Sir Jack did for Wolves and for the tremendous and unique legacy he has left behind for the Club and the City of Wolverhampton.
“Over the coming days the Club, and the City of Wolverhampton, will come together in various ways to fully recognise and celebrate his achievements – the ‘Old Boy’ will be greatly missed.”
· *Following this afternoon’s sad news, the players will wear black armbands and there will be a minute’s silence prior to tonight’s FA Cup Third Round replay with Fulham. A full tribute to Sir Jack’s life and achievements will be made prior to Saturday’s home game with Blackpool. We will also be asking supporters for their memories and tributes to be included online and in Saturday’s matchday programme.