FORMER Saints chairman Leon Crouch has been banned from the roads for 17 months and fined £800 for drink driving.

Crouch, 64, who played a pivotal role in helping save the club during its financial meltdown five years ago, was arrested by police after his Range Rover was found damaged in the New Forest.

Magistrates heard the Lymington businessman failed a breathalyser test after police had come across his vehicle with a damaged front by Arnewood Bridge Road, Sway.

They traced him to his home where he told them he had swerved to avoid another car and got stuck in the mud. Someone he knew then gave him a lift home.

There he provided a breath test which revealed a reading of 60 microgrammes – almost double the legal limit.

Crouch, of Normandy Lane, Lymington, pleaded guilty before Southampton Magistrates’ Court. In addition to the fine, he was also ordered to pay £165 court costs and an £80 victim surcharge fee.

Crouch, who founded Lymington Precision Engineers, is a lifelong Saints fan and is understood to have donated more than £4million before and during the club’s period in administration in 2009.

He was twice chairman of the club.

He also paid for a replacement statue of Saints legend Ted Bates after the original was the subject of fierce criticism from fans.