West Ham manager David Moyes described David Gold as “a good man and a sensible man”, who will be missed around the London Stadium.
Gold had been joint-chairman of the club since 2010. A bunch of flowers was placed in his honour in his allocated seat at Elland Road, with both sides wearing black armbands in a match watched by Gold’s long-time business associate and fellow Hammers joint-chairman David Sullivan.
Moyes said: “He was incredibly supportive of me personally and wanted me to stay after the first time (he was sacked in 2018).
“David was a good man and a sensible man. He hasn’t been well for a little while but everyone is saddened by it.”
Moyes and his players were told the news on Wednesday morning.
The Scot admitted it was a shock as, while he didn’t expect to see Gold at Elland Road, he didn’t think the situation was as severe as it turned out to be.
Gold, along with Sullivan and managing director Karren Brady, had been targeted in recent years by fans angry at a perceived lack of investment and alleged broken promises over the controversial move from Upton Park to the London Stadium.
This hurt Gold, who was born in Stepney and grew up a West Ham fan, even playing schoolboy games for the club.
“He was really important, a big part of the club and a big West Ham supporter,” added Moyes.
“The only times I have been with David Gold, he was desperate for West Ham to do well.
“He was a director and put his money in, trying to do the best he could.”
In the medium-term, it is not clear what will happen to Gold’s 25.1% stake in West Ham. The club also intend to pay a full tribute to him at their next home game, which is scheduled to be against Everton in the Premier League on 21 January, although there is potential for an FA Cup replay with Brentford before that.
For Moyes, the draw at Leeds ended a run of five successive Premier League defeats.
The Hammers boss thought his side would win once Gianluca Scamacca scored his first goal in almost three months at the start of the second half to put them 2-1 up, but Rodrigo levelled for Leeds.
As it is, they remain outside the bottom three only by the slenderest of goal difference advantages over Everton, although Moyes still feels his job is secure.
“I speak to him (Sullivan) regularly,” he said. “He has been fantastic in his support, encouraging me and the team to get back in form and move up the table, which is the aim. We have also got a European campaign to come.
“There are a lot of things that have happened in the last two and a half years that probably give them the confidence that I am a manager they can trust and work with.”