Former Newcastle United chairman Freddy Shepherd has died at the age of 75, his family said in a statement.
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.
A family statement released on Tuesday afternoon said:
Born and bred in the North East, Shepherd was the owner and managing director of the Shepherd Offshore Group for more than 40 years.
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.
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.
Alan Shearer, who played for the club under Shepherd's leadership was among the first to react to the news on Twitter.
He said: "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. RIP."
Newcastle United tweeted to say: "We are saddened to hear of the passing of former Newcastle United chairman, Freddy Shepherd. Our thoughts are with his family and friends."
Former Newcastle United goal keeper Stephen Harper has also shared his thoughts on social media:
Leader of Newcastle City Council, Cllr Nick Forbes has paid tribute to the "extraordinarily successful self-made millionaire"...
Former Newcastle United keeper Shay Given said: "We had so many memories at the Toon:
Freddy Shepherd was instrumental in the transformation of one of Newcastle's best known landmarks into a brewery.
The business tycoon bought the Palace of Arts building in Exhibition Park. The building, originally built in 1929 took five months to restore and re-opened in 2016.
The Wylam Brewery team paid tribute to their founder on Twitter, calling Shepherd "a wonderful gregarious man."