LONDON (AP)David Gold, the co-chairman of Premier League club West Ham since 2010, has died following a short illness. He was 86.

Gold’s death was announced by West Ham on Wednesday.

”On behalf of everyone at the football club, it is with profound sorrow and a heavy heart that we mourn the passing of our colleague and friend, David Gold,” said David Sullivan, West Ham’s other co-chairman.

”Of all our joint ventures, none gave us more pride and happiness than the day we took ownership of West Ham United, our club, in January 2010.”

Gold grew up in what he described as ”abject poverty” after his family home in London was rendered uninhabitable by German bombs during World War II. It led to the family moving across the road from West Ham’s old stadium, the Boleyn Ground, and Gold played for the club’s junior team from age 13-16.

He launched a successful business career, going into partnership with Sullivan in the adult magazine publication business. Gold also bought the four struggling Ann Summers sex shops and helped to transform the brand’s fortunes, making it more appealing to women and become a regular feature on the British high street.

Gold rekindled his love for soccer, and for West Ham, in 1991 when he, his brother and Sullivan bought a 29.9% stake in the club but they sold out two years later, with Gold saying they had ”no contact” from the board.

In 1993, the trio bought English team Birmingham, which briefly played in the Premier League before Gold sold his shares in central English club in 2009.

The purchase of West Ham in January the following year ”helped to steady the ship and protect the club’s future during a period of great financial uncertainty,” the team said.

Gold and Sullivan were criticized over the decision to move the Hammers out of the Boleyn Ground to the Olympic Stadium after the London Games in 2012, and over a perceived lack of investment in the team. The team has improved in recent years, finishing sixth in 2021 to secure a place in the Europa League under manager David Moyes.

West Ham played Leeds in the Premier League later Wednesday and players from both teams wore black armbands for the match as a mark of respect to Gold.

West Ham also projected a picture of Gold onto the Olympic Stadium in London, where the club plays its home matches.

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