FORMER Sydney Swans owner Geoffrey Edelsten has died in Melbourne. He was 78.

Edelsten became the first private franchisee of an Australian Football club when he purchased the license of the Swans in 1985.

He was also a long-term benefactor of Carlton and was awarded life membership of the Blues in 2013.

Dual Brownlow medallist Greg Williams, who played 107 games with the Swans between 1986 and 1991, said he owed a lot to Edelsten.

"He was a great guy with a great heart and he loved the Swans, even though he barracked for Carlton," Williams told Melbourne radio station 3AW.

"He loved football and he couldn't have looked after me any better than he did.

"I loved Dr Edelsten. [For] all the blokes who played for the Swans, I'm sure there's great memories there."