BOLTON Wanderers chairman Phil Gartside has died aged 63 after a short battle with cancer.

Mr Gartside died at his Cheshire home, surrounded by his family.

A book of remembrance has been set up outside the Macron stadium where fans can leave their condolences.

Mr Gartside, who joined the board at Wanderers in 1989 and became chairman in October 1999, was born in Leigh and attended Leigh Grammar School.

Under his chairmanship, the Whites gained promotion to the Premier League and reached the UEFA Cup for the first time in the club's history.

His last few years had been less successful. Wanderers were relegated from the Premier League in 2012. 

They are currently next to bottom of the Championship and are almost £200 million in debt. The club owe HMRC more than £2 million and face a winding up order.

Mr Gartside stepped away from his duties as chairman of the club in November last year.

Mr Gartside is survived by wife Carol, daughter Beverley and son Andrew.

Brett Warburton, who was Vice Chairman of the club under Mr Gartside, said: “This is a very sad day and my thoughts are with Phil’s family, his wife Carole, his children Andy and Bev, and grandchildren.

“Phil has been a very close friend for nearly 30 years but he was also a very dedicated chairman of Bolton Wanderers Football Club, having been a supporter since childhood when he would go and stand on the Burnden terrace with his father.

“Having first become chairman in 1999 Phil went on to give up a successful business career to become full time chairman of Wanderers and he was totally committed to the football club.

“He was also a very generous individual who had recently committed a lot of time and energy to the education of those he believed deserved a second chance in life.

“He was without doubt the most loyal, modest and capable people I have ever met and he will be sadly missed.”

In a statement, Bolton Wanderers said: "Phil has passed away after a short and brave battle with cancer. 

"Born in Leigh, Phil joined the board of Bolton Wanderers in 1988.

"He served as club chairman from 1999 and would go on to oversee a successful play-off promotion from the second tier as well as four consecutive top eight finishes in the Premier League and two UEFA Cup campaigns."

Mr Warburton added: “Phil has been a personal friend for over 30 years and this is a very sad day for everybody associated with Bolton Wanderers.

“On behalf of Eddie Davies, the board and everyone associated with the club we send our deepest condolences to all Phil’s family and ask that their privacy is respected during what is a difficult time for all involved."

In line with the family’s wishes, the funeral will be a private service.

Chris Green MP, whose constituency of Bolton West covers the Macron Stadium, said: “It's terrible news to hear of Phil Gartside’s death and my thoughts are with his family and friends at this difficult time.”

Whites fan David Crausby, MP for Bolton North East, also paid tribute.

He said: “This is very sad news and I really feel for his family.

“He did a great job at Bolton Wanderers over a long period of time and while times are difficult for the club at the moment he will be missed.”

Former Wanderers striker Dean Holdsworth said: “It is such a hard time for his family and friends and everyone connected with the club.

“As a player I enjoyed his company and spoke about football through wins and defeats. He wanted the club to do well.

“I have fond memories of the good times we had during the Premier League days and it is a sad time for all.

“His legacy will be in the history books of the club.

“He was a Bolton man. He had a bit of banter with me because I was from London, and he was trying to convince me I was a new northerner. His words were ‘I have turned you into a northerner now and you have got to stay up here’.”

Former Whites star Nicolas Anelka tweeted: "So sad chairman Phil Gartside has died aged 63 following battle with cancer."

Bolton Wanderers Supporters Association wrote: “RIP Phil. The BWSA sends deepest sympathies to his family and friends.”

Current Whites player Neil Danns tweeted: "My prayers go out to his family."

The leader of Bolton Council Cllr Cliff Morris had worked with Mr Gartside on several occasions during his time with the club.

He said: “I had quite a few dealings with Phil, not just to do with the Wanderers but with things like Bolton Arena and the free school.

“He was always very passionate about the Wanderers and he will be sadly missed — my thoughts go out to his family.”

Former Whites defender Paul Robinson said: "So sad hearing the news that Phil Gartside has passed away. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family."

Whites player Josh Vela tweeted: "Rip Phil Gartside thoughts and prayers go out to his family."

Vernon Kay said: “RIP Phil. A man who lived and breathed BWFC and the town of Bolton. He will be greatly missed – not just as a chairman but as a good friend.”

Rt Rev Chris Edmondson, the Bishop of Bolton, said: “I am saddened to hear of Phil’s death. I knew he had been unwell for some time but it is still a shock.

“His commitment to Bolton Wanderers over many years and not least in more recent difficult times says a great deal about how important the club and the town was to him.

“My thoughts and prayers are with his family and everyone who he worked with at the club."

Bolton Wanderers fan and borough councillor Andy Morgan said: “What he did over the years for Bolton Wanderers during the good years was amazing and many fans will remember that.

“Obviously that has to be tempered with what has happened in recent years and the board’s inability to get us out of this mess — but that is a debate for another time, not now.

“Anyone’s passing is a really sad day and I would ask people to be respectful on social media and think about his family.”

Former Premier League referee Mark Halsey, who lives in Bolton and used to train alongside Whites stars, said: "Very sad to hear Phil Garside has lost his battle with cancer.

"He was very good to Michelle and I with our battles. All our thoughts are with his family."

Whites legend Andy Walker played for the club when Mr Gartside was a board member.
He said he “couldn’t have done more” to look after him during his time at the club.

He added: “I really remember how kind and supportive he was towards me — in particular when I had a serious knee injury and was out for almost a year.

“He would send people to the house to help me and my wife and invited me around to use his swimming pool.

“Phil was involved with the club during a period of astonishing success and I know he loved being a part of that — it is very sad news.”

FA chairman Greg Dyke said: “On behalf of The FA, I am saddened to hear of this news.

“Phil had a lifelong association with Bolton Wanderers and did much to help the club achieve success upon becoming chairman in 1999.

“As well as leading Bolton during an extended stay in the Premier League over several seasons, he joined the FA Board in 2004 and was as dedicated to this role as he was to his club before stepping down in 2012.

“Our thoughts are with his family and friends today.”

In addition to his role on The FA Board, Mr Gartside served on the FA Council between 2004 and 2012.

He was a non-executive director of Wembley Stadium until last July, having first been appointed in February 2005.

Former Whites star Jason McAteer tweeted: "So sad to hear of the passing of Phil Gartside. Fantastic man and will be sadly missed."

Ex-England cricket skipper Michael Vaughan said: "Really sad news. Thoughts are with Phil Gartside's family. A great sporting enthusiast who adored his beloved Bolton."

Former Bolton News Wanderers reporter Gordon Sharrock, who reported on the club for 30 consecutive seasons, said: “I had a particular connection because we are both from Leigh and were both born in the same year.

"Although I didn’t know him before he joined the board, we realised we had many mutual friends.

“Obviously the club is going through some difficult times at the moment but I  prefer to look at the good times.

“Under Phil, Wanderers got back into the Premier League and into Europe and brought in some of the most exciting players the club has ever seen, such as Youri Djorkaeff, Jay Jay Okocha, Ivan Campo and Nicolas Anelka.

“He was a genuine fan and had seen the club in the dark days of the fourth division and presided over the glory days. He also appointed Sam Allardyce, which turned out to be a masterstroke.

“My condolences go to his wife and family, I have known them down the years and I know how Phil’s passing will have hit them.”