A CONTROVERSIAL former chairman of Keighley Cougars who was at the helm of the club during one of its most turbulent times has died.

Carl Metcalfe, who was dubbed Mr Midas, took over the reins of the rugby league club in 1996.

He headed a new board of directors appointed just a fortnight after the Lawkholme outfit, which had debts totalling more than £1 million, had called in the administrator.

Mr Metcalfe vowed to rejuvenate the club's fortunes and take it into Super League.

But the flamboyant businessman quit the following year, after several financial crises during which some of the Cougars' highest-paid players had to be sold and Mr Metcalfe received death threats.

A friend, who asked not to be named, said he would be fondly remembered by those close to him.

And she paid tribute to staff at Oxenhope Sue Ryder hospice Manorlands, where Mr Metcalfe died on Sunday, aged 72.

She added: "Whilst he had his share of difficult publicity, Carl valued his home town of Keighley and the loyalty of a number of very close friends with whom he kept contact in the last years of his life when living almost as a recluse.

"His health had been poor for the past five years and he died after a short illness.

"He was cared for at Manorlands by the most dedicated and special people, who will never be forgotten for their kindness and humanity.

"Carl did much charity work in his lifetime and was well known with regard to the Cougars.

"He will be fondly remembered by close friends and he would have wished to convey thanks to all the medical professionals who helped him towards the end of his life."

Mr Metcalfe was well known in the 1990s for his extravagant lifestyle, sporting diamond jewellery and driving a £47,000 Lexus car with personalised plates.

He made a number of charitable donations.

But in 2002 his fortunes dived to a new low when he was jailed for producing and selling fake ecstasy tablets.

Mr Metcalfe's funeral service will be private.