Lancashire

Oyston family 'treated Blackpool FC as cash machine'

Owen Oyston Image copyright PA
Image caption The Oyston family vigorously deny the claims

The family which own and run Blackpool FC have been accused at the High Court of treating the club as "the family's personal cash machine".

Andrew Green QC, representing club president Valeri Belokon, said owner Owen and chairman Karl Oyston took millions of pounds from the club after Premier League promotion in 2010.

Mr Belokon's company is pursuing a claim against the Oyston family for "unfair prejudice" against shareholders.

The Oystons vigorously deny the claims.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Blackpool FC won promotion to the Premier League in 2010

Mr Belokon's company, VB Football Assets, a minor shareholder in the club, was excluded from key decisions, information and any share of profits, claimed Mr Green.

VB Football is also pursing a claim against Blackpool FC Ltd and Blackpool FC (Properties) Ltd, a company with family links formerly known as Segesta, for "unfair prejudice" against shareholders.

'Antithesis of transparency'

Mr Green told Mr Justice Marcus Smith, sitting in London, that as a result of the Seasiders reaching the Premier League, the club received £106m ($134m), which included £48m for the 2010-11 season and £58m of "parachute payments" following Blackpool's relegation at the end of the season.

Mr Green said the Oyston family's case was that at all times they had been transparent and open in relations to payments made out of the club, which he disputed.

"There was, in fact, the adoption of a deliberate strategy by the Oyston family to take cash out of Blackpool Football Club, and do so in a way VB Football Assets and its nominated directors could do nothing to stop that was the antithesis of transparency."

He added: "Owen and Karl Oyston have treated Blackpool Football Club as the Oystons' personal cash machine."

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

The hearing is listed for five weeks.

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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