Stanley supporters and well-known borough figures have hailed Reds chairman Ilyas Khan as the ‘saviour of Accrington Stanley’ following his decision to stand down from the club.
The Accrington-born businessman, who stepped in when the club was almost wound up over a £308,000 tax bill in 2009, made the shock announcement at the club’s AGM last week.
Khan, who owns between 5,000 and 6,000 of the club’s 10,400 shares, has now pledged to give his shares away after putting the club on a secure financial footing.
In honour of his contribution to the club he led out the Reds players for their last home game against Crawley Town.
He also donned the outfit of club mascot Winstanley for the Mascot Grand National at Kempton Park in Sunbury-on-Thames.
Cricket legend David ‘Bumble’ Lloyd said the club would have ‘gone out of existence’ if it hadn’t been for Khan’s help.
He said: “They were in a terrible mess and he footed the bill. I think he’s done a fantastic job and it is marvellous for the community.
“Hopefully we will still see him around and his experience will be tapped into. He’s become a good pal.”
Lifelong fan Jack Barrett, who is credited with helping rescue the club after it exited the football league in 1962, said Khan did a ‘good job’.
He added: “Without him there was no other person. We have done well to have him.” Former Reds manager John Coleman said Khan deserves ‘a lot of credit’ for rescuing the club.
He said: “He’s done well to step into the breach. There’s no doubt the club would have gone bust.”
Hyndburn MP Graham Jones said Khan will go down in the history books as the club’s ‘most famous chairman’.
He said: “If it wasn’t for him it would have gone under. To donate his shares to shareholders is a great act of trust and philanthropy.
“He can only be applauded for what he’s done for the town, the area and the supporters.”
Council leader Miles Parkinson said Mr Khan’s intervention has ensured the legend of the club lives on.
He said: “He came forward in the hour of need and kept the football club afloat. Hopefully now this will take the club forward.”