Blackpool FC high court battle could be among British football's costliest cases

A bitter battle between Blackpool FC's owners and its president is being fought out at the High Court in what could prove to be one of British football's most expensive legal actions.
A bitter battle between Blackpool FC's owners and its president is being fought out at the High Court in what could prove to be one of British football's most expensive legal actions.

A bitter battle between Blackpool FC's owners and its president is being fought out at the High Court in what could prove to be one of British football's most expensive legal actions.

Club owners the Oyston family are being accused by the president, Latvian millionaire Valeri Belokon, of stripping the club of funds.

Mr Belokon's company, VB Football Assets, is pursing a claim for "unfair prejudice" against Owen and Karl Oyston.

A key issue in the case, being heard over five weeks in London, concerns the destination of large sums received from the club following promotion of the Seasiders to the Premier League in 2010.

The Oystons are accused of causing tens of millions of pounds to be improperly transferred to themselves or to companies associated with them, to the detriment of VB Football Assets, a minority shareholder.

The club's fortunes declined after 2010, though it was promoted from League 2 to League 1 in the play-offs this season.

Mr Belokon won a court case in Manchester in February this year in a dispute with the Oystons over his share of profits after he provided £4.7 million in July 2008 to develop the south stand and south west corner of the club's stadium.

That case was brought by JSC Baltic International Bank, owned by Mr Belokon, against Segesta Ltd, the holding company for the club's assets.

In March, the club announced that Mr Belokon was being suspended from its board as a result of a judgement in the Paris Court of Appeal related to disputed allegations of money laundering involving two banks founded or owned by him.