Former Newcastle United chairman Freddy Shepherd has died at the age of 75, his family have said in a statement.
The multi-millionaire was involved in a number of regeneration projects through his company Shepherd Offshore.
A pivotal figure in the St James’ Park club’s rise during the 1990s, he was chairman for 10 years from 1997.
Shepherd eventually sold his share of the club to Mike Ashley and recently, along with brother Bruce, was granted the freedom of the city of Newcastle.
“Freddy Shepherd, former chairman of Newcastle United and chairman of Shepherd Offshore Group and Triple S Sports & Entertainment Group, sadly passed away peacefully at his home last night,” his family said in a statement.
“At this difficult time the family have asked that their privacy be respected.”
He set up the Triple S group in 2008 but is best known for his influential role at Newcastle.
A director of the Magpies from 1992 until 2007, Shepherd served as vice-chairman to Sir John Hall as the club finished Premier League runners-up in both 1996 and 1997, playing a key role in signing Alan Shearer from Blackburn for a world-record £15million.
“So sad to hear my great friend and former NUFC chairman Freddy Shepherd has passed away. I owe him a huge debt for bringing me home,” Shearer tweeted.
Shepherd became Newcastle chairman in 1997 and oversaw several dalliances with the Champions League, while his decision to appoint Sir Bobby Robson saw United finish as high as third in 2003.
Unfortunately, Shepherd was unable to lead Newcastle to major success during an eventful decade as chairman, eventually selling his 28.01 per cent stake of the Premier League club to Ashley in June 2007.
Having relinquished his shareholding for more than £37million, he was replaced as chairman by Chris Mort the following month.
Upon leaving the club, Shepherd said: “I have had a great 15 years on the board, 10 of them as chairman and I have enjoyed every minute.
“It has been a great privilege and honour to have been chairman and I would not have missed it for the world.
“We have had some really exciting times and I like to think we have achieved a lot since 1992 when we took over the club.
“But it was the right time for me to stand down. And in any case, once the club was delisted, my position as chairman of the PLC became redundant.
“I gave it my best shot and I could not really have done any more.”
A short club statement said: “We are saddened to hear of the passing of former Newcastle United chairman, Freddy Shepherd. Our thoughts are with his family and friends.”