FORMER East Lancashire businessman, motor racing tycoon and football chairman John Batchelor has died.

Mr Batchelor, who was 51, had reportedly been ill and died in Stepping Hill Hospital, Stockport.

A former toilet rolls salesman for System Hygiene, in Altham, he used to live in Blackburn and was a season ticket holder at Turf Moor.

He was former owner of York City Football Club and later made a £1.5m bid to buy Accrington Stanley, move the club to Leigh and rename it Lancashire United.

Batchelor started racing in the Super Road Saloons Championship in 1999 and won the title in his debut season.

A move into the Ford Fiesta Championship brought him infamy as he changed his name to John Top Gear by deed poll in order to attract backing from the BBC television show.

In 2001, the former British touring car championship driver secured a £100,000 sponsorship deal, by changing his name to Mr B&Q.

He told the DIY giant that he would swap his own name in exchange for the major sponsorship deal.

And when the company agreed he promptly became John B&Q.

Paul Steddings, general manager at System Hygiene, said: “John Batchelor was a director of the company over 20 years ago and we are sorry to learn of his tragic death and our thoughts are with his family.”

In 2002, Mr Batchelor is believed to have paid in the region of £4.5million for York City.

His reign at the Bootham Crescent club was clouded in controversy, and saw it come close to extinction.

In 2009, he was banned from acting as a company director for the next seven years.

Officials at the Government’s Insolvency Service said Mr Batchelor had allowed two of his companies to enter transactions to the benefit of connected companies and himself and to the detriment of their creditors.

Mr Batchelor, lived in Wilmslow, Cheshire with his wife Gillian.