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By ESPN Staff

Dundee Utd mourn passing of chairman Thompson

Dundee United today paid tribute to the bravery of Eddie Thompson after the club chairman lost his battle with cancer.

Thompson died in hospital aged 67 at 2am this morning following a long battle with prostate cancer.

Despite his illness, he had attended games and continued working for the club until the last weeks of his life.

The club described him as an ''inspirational friend'' while United fans saluted him as a ''hero''.

A club statement read: ''It is with great sadness that Dundee United announce the death of chairman Eddie Thompson, who died today after a long illness borne with great fortitude, much bravery and a dogged determination to carry out his responsibilities at Tannadice for as long as possible.''

Dundee United's weekend match against Rangers has been postponed as a mark of respect, with Scottish Premier League confirming Saturday's match at Ibrox would be rescheduled for a later date and that a one minute of applause for Thompson before all other top-flight games in Scotland this weekend.

Former Dundee United captain Derek McInnes paid tribute to Thompson's work at Tannadice.

The St Johnstone manager said: ''First and foremost my thoughts are with his family, he was a big family man.

''I don't think anyone could have done more in his time at a club, not just the financial side but his time. I think Dundee United are a better club for that. He worked so hard to generate money for the club.

''He was desperate for some sort of success and Dundee United have been a better club in the last few seasons. He has played his part in that as well as the manager, Craig Levein.

''On a personal level, when I got the manager's job at St Johnstone, the first letter that arrived to congratulate me was from Eddie Thompson. That was appreciated.''

United fans praised his ''tenacity and passion'' for their club.

The Federation of Dundee United Supporters' Clubs added: ''We have lost a wonderful father figure whose massive physical, emotional and financial contribution will always be revered amongst us.

''The courage, bravery and devotion to our team shown by Eddie during the latter stages of his illness dispels the myth that there are no heroes anymore - Eddie Thompson is a hero to all of us.''

Motherwell chairman John Boyle paid tribute to Thompson as a champion of the smaller clubs in Scotland's top flight.

''He fought for his club, he was so enthusiastic and so passionate,'' Boyle told BBC Radio Scotland. ''He was an inspiration to us. There was absolutely no question that, as he said, he was the custodian for the fans.

''Dundee United went through a very, very turbulent time and he was a bit of stability for the club.

''They have achieved marvels in the last six or seven years, largely due to his influence. The players, the manager and the fans all looked up to him so much. He has left the club in a tremendously good nick.

''He fought for all of the smaller clubs. He was a director of the SPL for many years and everyone will tell you, they may have disagreed with him, but there was enormous respect for him.''

Thompson became chairman and owner in September 2002 and ploughed millions of pounds of his own money into the club.

In June 2007, the club was mired in record levels of debt, which stood at £2.7million. By June 2008, this had turned into an operating profit.

Despite his financial backing and business-like approach, Thompson saw himself above all as a supporter and believed Dundee United fans were the club's true owners.

He was once quoted as saying: ''You can change your wife, your house, your car, but you can never change your team.Chairmen come and go, boards come and go, but the fans remain. They are the one true constant.''

One of the stands at Tannadice was named after him earlier this year and thousands of Dundee United fans wore ''One Eddie Thompson'' T-shirts at this year's CIS Cup final, when United were defeated by Rangers.

He is survived by his wife Cath, children Justine and Stephen and four grandchildren.

The news of Thompson's death comes only three days after the death of his son-in-law Ken Mitchell, 38, in a motorcycle accident.


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