John Bowler, the former long-serving Crewe chairman, has died at the age of 85. Bowler joined the Crewe board in 1980 and was chairman of the League One club for 34 years between 1987 and 2021. He stood down last March following the publication of the Sheldon report into historical sexual abuse in football.
A Crewe statement said: “It is with deepest sadness that the football club has to announce the passing of our former chairman and director, John Bowler MBE. Further information will be issued when made available and our thoughts are very much with the family.”
The Sheldon report was critical of Crewe for not doing enough to protect boys from serial abuser Barry Bennell, who worked at the Cheshire club in the 1980s and 1990s.
Bowler’s time at Crewe coincided with Dario Gradi’s managerial reign between 1983 and 2007 when the Railwaymen reached the second tier of English football. He was awarded an MBE in 2015 for his services to football and said he had always intended to stand down as club chairman once the Sheldon report had been published.
Bowler stated it was “important” he saw the report through to its conclusion as he was “the only person left with an association to that era”. He said he was “deeply appalled and sorry” at the way the players and their families had suffered through Bennell’s “heinous crimes”.