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Gordon Farquhar, BBC Sports News Correspondent
discusses Jack Walker's contribution to football on BBC Five Live
 real 14k

Former England and Blackburn Legend Ronnie Clayton
talks to BBC Five Live's Allan Robb
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Blackburn player Simon Garner
"A very sad day."
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BBC Five Live's John Thorne
gathers reaction from Blackburn fans.
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Friday, 18 August, 2000, 09:12 GMT 10:12 UK
Blackburn Rovers owner dies
Jack Walker
Blackburn's Premiership win was Walker's crowning glory
Jack Walker, the millionaire chairman who bank-rolled Blackburn Rovers, has died at the age of 71.

Walker, who had been suffering from cancer, died on 17 April in Jersey, the Channel Island that had become his adopted home.

He made his fortune from the steel industry before taking over as Blackburn chairman in 1991 and ploughing millions of pounds into the unfashionable Lancashire club, who were then in the old Second Division.

Walker appointed former Liverpool legend Kenny Dalglish as manager and Rovers forced their way into the Premiership elite.

The word benefactor could have been invented for Jack Walker... football has lost a true friend
  Alan Shearer

After signing a number of high-profile players, including Alan Shearer for a then record fee of 3.5m, Walker saw the club win the Premiership in 1995 - their first title for 81 years.

"Jack Walker's influence on Blackburn Rovers cannot be overstated," said Pauline Perkins, secretary of the Blackburn Rovers Supporters' Association.

"To the vast majority he was just Uncle Jack and we shall miss him terribly."

Rovers chairman Robert Coar added: "No tribute from us, no matter how long or how detailed, could ever do justice to Mr Walker's achievements here at Ewood Park.

A Blackburn fan mourns Walker's death
A Blackburn fan mourns Walker's death
"Jack Walker was this football club's number one supporter in every possible sense and his love for Rovers knew no boundaries, his loyalty and commitment was never in question.

"His remarkable drive and determination changed the face and fortune of the club."

Hugely popular

Shearer himself said after hearing the news: "The word benefactor could have been invented for Jack Walker - he gave pride to the town of Blackburn.

"Jack was a kind, generous and emotional man - the memories of the day Blackburn won the Premiership will stay with me forever.

"Football has lost a true friend."

  Jack Walker
1929: Born near Blackburn.
1951: Takes over the family business with his brother after their father dies.
1974: Retreats to Jersey as a tax exile.
1990: Sells family steelworks, Walkersteel, to British Steel for 330m.
1991: Buys a 62% stake in Blackburn and brings in Kenny Dalglish as manager.
1992: Rovers win promotion to the Premiership and the club sign Alan Shearer for a British record fee of 3.5m.
1994: Finish as runners-up and a 25m re-fit of Ewood Park is completed.
1995: Blackburn win the league for the first time in 81 years.
2000: Dies from cancer at the age of 71.
Rovers did suffer a fall from grace in 1999 when they were relegated from the top flight.

But unlike the vast majority of football club chairmen, he was hugely popular with the supporters, who would regularly chant his name at Ewood Park, Rovers' ageing ground that he had transformed with a 20m investment.

The news of his death was announced by BBC Radio Jersey.

There had been growing concerns for his health for months and he had been receiving lengthy hospital treatment at his home in Jersey, where he had been a tax exile since 1974 with his wife Carol and two sons.

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See also:

18 Aug 00 |  Football
Jack of the Rovers
18 Aug 00 |  Football
Football remembers Jack Walker
18 Aug 00 |  Sports Talk
Your tributes to Jack Walker
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