Owen Oyston: £13m deal to renovate Bloomfield Road was 'gentleman's agreement' made with Blackpool FC president Valeri Belokon

Blackpool FC owner Owen Oyston (right) said he got on well with club president Valeri Belokon (left) until recently
Blackpool FC owner Owen Oyston (right) said he got on well with club president Valeri Belokon (left) until recently

Blackpool Football Club owner Owen Oyston told a court a £13m deal to renovate Bloomfield Road was agreed with a handshake in a ‘gentleman’s agreement’ at a top London hotel.

Mr Oyston told a High Court hearing, at Manchester’s Civil Justice Centre, that a proposed loan between Blackpool FC and Segesta Ltd - a company owned and operated by his family - had the full agreement of Latvian businessman and club president Valeri Belokon.

Blackpool FC chairman Karl Oyston (left) has given evidence in the High Court after a multi-million pound claim was lodged by club president Valeri Belokon (right).

Blackpool FC chairman Karl Oyston (left) has given evidence in the High Court after a multi-million pound claim was lodged by club president Valeri Belokon (right).

The meeting took place in the five-star Claridge’s hotel at the end of June 2010, a month after the Seasiders’ promotion to the Premier League, Mr Oyston told the court on day three of the hearing.

He said: “I shook hands with Valeri and we agreed the money would be spent for the purposes we discussed.

“If he had said ‘Owen I don’t want to do this’ it would have been the end of the matter. But he didn’t - not until years later.”

Mr Belokon claims he is entitled to half the revenue of the Blackpool FC hotel at the club’s Bloomfield Road stadium.

His firm insists it is owed millions by Segesta, the club’s parent company, as a return on the investment he made in 2008 prior to the Seasiders’ promotion to the English top flight.

Mr Belokon claims he agreed to invest in Bloomfield Road in return for a greater stake in the club.

However, Mr Oyston said Mr Belokon was aware after the 2010 meeting that cash would be spent on improving the east stand, at an eventual cost of £2m; the south east corner, for £3.3m; and the so-called third phase, which involved the building of the hotel, at £3.3m.

Mr Oyston said decisions had to be made fast in 2010 to ensure the club was ready to play its first Premier League fixture at Bloomfield Road.

In the event, the club was forced to play its first game away at Wigan because work had not been completed in time.

Mr Oyston said: “We would have been unable to meet the requirements of the Premier League without this agreement.

“I always enjoyed the company of Mr Belokon, until recently, and it was made clear we had a matter of weeks to carry out the work required.

“In the programme for our first fixture, he said he was entirely delighted with what had happened and congratulated my son Karl [Oyston, the club’s chairman] on his fine achievement of completing the stadium.”

Mr Belokon told the court on the first day of the hearing: “It was my understanding that Segesta funded the construction of the hotel with help from a loan they took from Blackpool Football Club.”

He denied signing a specific agreement to build the hotel. However Mr Oyston said their meeting at Claridge’s constituted a ‘gentleman’s agreement’.

Earlier today, the court heard from Karl Oyston, Blackpool FC chairman, who rejected suggestions the club's money was used to benefit Segesta, and the club's company secretary Rod Dyer.

The hearing was adjourned until February 16.