Aged 17, David Moores booked the Beatles to perform for £100 at Stowe in 1963. After a gig that included the live debut of their hit From Me to You, Moores made only £20 from ticket sales, some of which he spent on fish and chips for the band. When he asked them to return they were on the up and up, and Ringo replied: “For £100? Not bloody likely.”
The Beatles episode was a rare solo business venture for Moores, nephew of the late Sir John Moores, who started Littlewoods football pools in the 1920s and branched out into department stores and mail order, making the family one of Britain’s wealthiest.
For years the Moores held shares in both Liverpool and Everton, sworn rivals with stadiums less than a mile apart. While Sir John was Everton’s chairman, David backed Liverpool. He became chairman there in 1991 and steered the club through the formation of the Premier League a year later. With his distinctive black moustache and Beatlesesque “mop top”, Moores was easy to spot in the directors’ box. He had no office at the Anfield stadium, arguing in his Scouse accent that there was no point taking up valuable space just to have a room with the word ‘Chairman’ on the door.
Moores was responsible for several innovations, including the appointment of Gérard Houllier, who became Liverpool’s first non-British manager in 1998. Under the Frenchman, and from 2004 the Spaniard Rafael Benítez, Liverpool won several trophies, most notably the Champions League in 2005. However, the club continued to be eclipsed by Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United. The Premier League title, considered to be the ‘Holy Grail’, remained elusive on Moores’s watch.
David Richard Moores was born in Liverpool in 1946, younger son of Cecil Moores, Sir John’s brother, and his wife Doris, (née Steel). David’s elder brother, Nigel, was killed in a car crash in the south of France in April 1977.
After Stowe, David followed the rest of the family into the Littlewoods business. In the Moores tradition, he bought a mansion within reach of Liverpool, in his case near Halsall, 15 miles north of the city.
Kathy Anders, a former Miss England, became its chatelaine when Moores married her in 1976. She died in September 1977, when Moores’s Jaguar spun into a ditch on a country road in Lancashire. He sustained serious head injuries, but recovered. He married Marjorie Walmsley in 1983 and they had two children, David and Patricia. Marjorie died in February 2022.
Moores became Liverpool chairman in September 1991, after acquiring a controlling 51 per cent of the club’s shares from relatives. He retained a stake in Everton for another two years, which he sold as part of a takeover by Peter Johnson of Park Foods, a hamper firm.
At Liverpool he inherited as manager Graeme Souness, a former player of the club. Souness won the FA Cup at the end of that season, but Moores sacked him in 1994 after a run of poor results.
By 2007 Moores was worrying that even his family’s extensive resources (Littlewoods had been sold to the Barclay brothers for £750 million in 2002) would not be enough for Liverpool to compete against the money being injected by other clubs, most notably Roman Abramovich at Chelsea. He began looking for a buyer.
After sifting through more than 30 offers, he accepted a deal with Sheikh Mohammed’s Dubai Investment Company. That collapsed when a leaked document suggested it was planning to sell the club after only seven years. So Moores turned to Gillett and Hicks. He later wrote: “Significant shareholders… left me in no doubt about my legal duty to accept their offer.”
When Liverpool won the 2005 Champions League final after a famous comeback against AC Milan, Moores visited the dressing room to congratulate the team. Dietmar Hamann, one of the players, said: “He never said anything, he had a tear running down his cheek and I pulled him into the showers and asked for a cigarette. We never said a word, we had a smoke and it was just the most perfect end to the night, to share that moment of peace and quiet.”