Tributes have been paid to flamboyant Darlington businessman George Reynolds who has died.Reynolds, born in 1936, was a former Darlington FC chairman and rose from humble roots to be ranked 112th in the Sunday Times rich list with a fortune of £250m.It is not yet clear when or how the entrepreneur, who last appeared in the news in March when he was given a 12-month conditional discharge for breaching a restraining order, passed away.Reynolds had a colourful career in which he rose from humble roots in Sunderland to own a multi-million chipboard business in Shildon, County Durham.His first conviction was for stealing cigarettes, which he traded for food for his family, while in 1964 he was jailed for four years for safe-cracking, handling explosives, burglary and theft.
In 1999, he bought Darlington Football Club, cleared its £5m debts and built the 25,000 seater stadium on the edge of Darlington.However, in 2005 he was jailed for three years for tax evasion.His friends have taken to social media to pay tribute.One Facebook user said: "A legend and a very very good friend George Reynoldshas sadly passed away this morning."I know a lot of people think of George in a different way but he was a man who looked after me and my family when I was in trouble financially he got me back on my feet and has put me where I am today."People will think of George in different ways I know he could be a swine when he wanted to be but he also had a heart of gold underneath. I would never hear anybody speak a bad word of him for what he did for me and my family. God bless rest in peace George."Tom Goodey added: "RIP George Reynolds not everyone's cup of tea but a good friend."