Lancashire

Blackpool FC: Valeri Belokon 'betrayed by Oystons'

Owen Oyston Image copyright PA
Image caption Owner Owen (pictured) and chairman Karl Oyston deny claims of "unfair prejudice" against shareholders

The president of Blackpool Football Club has told the High Court he felt "betrayed" by Owen and Karl Oyston after they took millions from the club.

Valeri Belokon said funds from the club's Premier League promotion was taken out in the same period the team was relegated to League Two.

He said the "substantial sums" should have been spent on players.

Mr Belokon is claiming against the Oystons for "unfair prejudice" against shareholders - which they deny.

Owen and Karl Oyston - the owner and chairman - are accused of "improperly" extracting millions of pounds for their own benefit.

Promotion to the Premier League in 2010 led to an influx of £106m over five years, the court heard.

In a witness statement, Latvian millionaire banker Mr Belokon said: "If even a small proportion of these substantial sums had been used to purchase and pay players, I believe the club would never have found itself in its current position."

Image caption Mr Belokon won a court case in February in a dispute with the Oystons

Mr Belokon said: "Following the first payments in 2010, I was less involved in the club as I felt betrayed by Owen and Karl Oyston and have since had to endure watching this great club relegated three times since it reached its heights in the Premier League."

Mr Belokon says his company, which had invested in the club, was excluded from key decisions, information and a fair share of profits despite a joint understanding with Owen Oyston that the club would be run with his company as a 50-50 joint venture.

Alan Steinfeld QC, cross-examining Mr Belokon, suggested he had been told by Mr Oyston there could be no so such deal.

Mr Belokon replied: "We had an agreement, private to private, like gentlemen."

His QC Andrew Green had earlier accused owner Owen and chairman Karl Oyston of treating the Lancashire club as "the family's personal cash machine".

VB Football Assets, a minor shareholder in the club owned by Mr Belokon, is pursing a claim against the Oystons for "unfair prejudice" against shareholders.

The claim is also against Blackpool FC Ltd itself and Blackpool FC (Properties) Ltd, a company with family links formerly known as Segesta.

Mr Belokon won a court case in February in a dispute with the Oyston family over his share of profits after he provided £4.7m in July 2008 to develop the south stand and south-west corner of the club's stadium.

In March, the club announced 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.

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