'Sunderland through and through' - Tributes paid to former SAFC chairman John Featherstone
Tributes have been paid to former Sunderland AFC chairman John Featherstone.
Mr Featherstone – a chartered accountant and recruitment specialist – was a lifelong Sunderland supporter and chairman when Sunderland won the Championship in 1995-96, he was also a board member for several years.
Foundation of Light chairman and former SAFC chairman Sir Bob Murray CBE has led the tributes and described Featherstone as ‘Sunderland through and through’ – the pair worked closely together around the time Sunderland were moving from Roker Park to the Stadium of Light.
Club historian Rob Mason posted this tribute on the club’s website: “We are saddened to learn of the death of former Sunderland AFC Chairman John Featherstone
“Featherstone became chairman midway through the reign of Sir Bob Murray, who remained the club’s major shareholder whilst Featherstone held the reigns at Roker Park for two and a half years from November 1993 until the summer of 1996.
“Born on 26 April 1933 at Croft Avenue on Chester Road, Sunderland, Featherstone first saw Sunderland play when he was just six years old, just before World War Two.
“As a boy, he attended Bede School and when later residing at Grange Park Avenue, just off Newcastle Road, he sometimes had the pleasure of Len Shackleton joining in with his schoolboy kickabouts.
“John’s father was friendly with Sunderland Director Jack Cooke and consequently, he grew up as a devoted supporter. He was also an active member at Ashbrooke in Sunderland, regularly playing rugby for them.”
A chartered accountant and recruitment specialist, he was chairman of Hogget Bowers plc which he sold in 1986.
Mr Featherstone also had business interests in the British Virgin Islands and spent two decades as a non-executive director with the firm that built the Emirates Stadium in London and roofed the centre court at Wimbledon.
Mr Featherstone joined the board at SAFC in the summer of 1990 and took over as chairman when Sir Bob Murray temporarily stepped down from the role to concentrate on efforts to secure the club a new stadium.
Rob Mason added: "When Sir Bob resumed his Chairmanship in June 1996, Featherstone accepted a role as Associate Director until the club left Roker Park in 1997, after which he remained a keen supporter and a Black Cats Bar season-card holder, travelling from his home in Yorkshire along with his friend Brian Sawyer, a former Rotherham United centre-forward."
Foundation of Light chairman and former chairman of Sunderland AFC Sir Bob Murray CBE added: "I am saddened to hear of John's passing.
"He was an excellent board member; he was Sunderland through and through.
"John worked tirelessly for the club and did a great job of looking after the playing side while I focussed on the Stadium of Light project. I send my heartfelt condolences to John's family and friends at this sad time.
"He will be greatly missed,” he added.
The club added: “He will be sorely missed by all associated with Sunderland AFC and our thoughts are with his family and friends at this time.”