‘Pound of flesh’ row as Pool court battle verdict is adjourned

Blackpool v Nottingham Forest in the nPower Championship, at Bloomfield Road.
Blackpool v Nottingham Forest in the nPower Championship, at Bloomfield Road.

Blackpool FC president Valeri Belokon has been accused of trying to “claim his pound of flesh” as the bitter row over the club’s finances was again played out in court.

Mr Belokon claims he is entitled to half of the revenue of the Blackpool FC hotel on Bloomfield Road after investing in the club in 2008 prior to their promotion to the Premier League.

However, Eric Shannon, acting on behalf of Pool owner Karl Oyston, claimed Mr Belokon was trying to claim money he was not entitled to at Manchester’s Civil Justice Centre yesterday.

He accused the businessman of trying to ‘claim his pound of flesh’ over the hotel.

He said: “All commercial common sense point in favour of the defendant.

“Mr Belokon wants to have his cake and eat it too.”

But Fraser Campbell, acting on behalf of Mr Belokon, denied this, telling the hearing that the hotel had been built illegally as it had not been signed off by Mr Belokon.

He said: “The hotel was built against the terms of the agreement.

“We have been accused of seeking to extract our pound of flesh, but what he fails to realise is that this is an agreement which responds to an imbalance of power by putting in limitations such as this so that the lesser power cannot be burdened financially.”

Her honour Judge Moulder reserved judgement on the case to a later date.

The original agreement between Mr Oyston and Mr Belokon was intended to cover several phases of development at the club.

£2m would be spent on improving the east stand, £3.3m would be spent on the south east corner, and the so-called third phase would involve the building of a casino or hotel.

Mr Shannon said: “In 2008, the claimant agreed to phase one, two, and three.

“They did not say they agreed to one and two and if we feel like it we will move onto phase three.”

He added that Mr Belokon was not put out financially as a result of the project, as it was funded by Segesta Ltd, which is owned by the Oyston family.

Mr Campbell said there was no way of knowing whether some of Mr Belokon’s money had been used as they had not seen the relevant paperwork. At a previous court hearing, Owen Oyston claimed the £13m plan to build the hotel was agreed with a handshake in a ‘gentleman’s agreement’ at Claridge’s five star hotel in London in June 2010.

Mr Campbell said Mr Belokon had raised objections about the building of the hotel, though Mr Oyston’s legal team deny this.

Mr Shannon said: “Mr Belekon said in his evidence that he objected, but Mr Oyston says he did not and there’s no evidence to suggest that he did.

“My client explicitly said it would be done and no objection was made to it being done.”

Mr Campbell said: “There were several objections.”