Former Blackpool FC chairman Karl Oyston’s bid to claim £45,000 he says is owed to him by the club has been held up by concerns over the legality of his contract.
An employment tribunal in Manchester heard Mr Oyston was not paid directly but had his salary deducted from a loan account.
It prompted Judge Franey to raise concerns over the possible illegality of the performance of the contract, between the ex-chairman and the club, and question whether the payments were set up “to avoid tax” or child support liabilities.
However, he said there was no suggestion in the tribunal that Mr Oyston himself had done anything wrong.
Yesterday’s hearing was delayed as a room large enough was found to allow around 20 Seasiders supporters to attend.
The club was represented by counsel James Boyd, while complainant Mr Oyston represented himself and was joined later by his son Sam Oyston.
The delay was also caused by the late delivery on the day of Mr Oyston’s case notes for the judge and respondents.
While awaiting the start of the tribunal, Mr Oyston had to sit in the same waiting room as representatives from fans groups MSG, BST and the Tangerine Knights, some of whom had been taken to court by Mr Oyston and his father in acrimonious libel cases towards the end of their reign at the club.
The tribunal was to look at the period from February 2018 to July 2019 when Mr Karl Oyston was suspended from his role as club chairman by Owen Osyton. He says around £2,500 a month should have been paid to him during that period instead of being deducted from his loan account.
However, Judge Franey said he needed more time to examine the way Mr Oyston was paid by the club – complicated by the fact neither party had a copy of his contract. He said any illegality in the arrangement could affect his decision over the wages claim and a later claim of unfair dismissal.
Mr Oyston pointed out that the club had been reviewed by the taxman at the time and HMRC had pointed out nothing out of order.
He added that many documents had been lost when filing cabinets had been removed from his office by another company after he was suspended 2018.
The judge said: “Neither side has the contract of employment.” He added that another hearing might be needed to examine aspects of illegality.
He said he would need to determine “how it came about that your salary was being paid into a loan account and not direct to you”. Other questions he said needed answering were “whether that was done to avoid tax or CSA (child support) liabilities” and “whether that was something you were participatory in or whether your employer insisted on that”.
A third party company, one of several owned by the Oyston family, was said to have moved the contract and Mr Boyd said, despite contacting the firm, the club had not been able to obtain a copy.
The judge said he would consider making an order to hand over the document if a further approach was unsuccessful.
The tribunal was adjourned for a public preliminary hearing on February 6, when a decision would be made on the legality of the contract’s performance and on whether to hear both of Mr Oyston’s claims at the same time.