UPDATED: Belokon: ‘Court victory brings me little joy’

Blackpool v Nottingham Forest in the nPower Championship, at Bloomfield Road.
Blackpool v Nottingham Forest in the nPower Championship, at Bloomfield Road.
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Blackpool FC president Valeri Belokon said his court victory over the Oyston family has brought him “little joy”.

Fans shouted ‘Oyston Out’ after a judge sensationally sided with the Blackpool FC president in a court battle over the club’s finances.

Belokon’s victory could cost the Oyston family more than £1.9m, who are also facing £900,000 legal costs.

Fans responded with a muted “Yes” under their breaths as the judgement was given at Manchester’s Civil Justice Centre.

But in a statement to The Gazette following the verdict, a spokesman for the Latvian said: “While Mr Belokon welcomes the judgement, it brings himn little joy when Blackpool Football Club remains in League Two.

“Mr Belokon will vigorously continue his separate claim in proceedings in London relating to the historic and ongoing management of the club.”

Neither party was present for the judgement, but their legal representatives dealt with the case as around 20 fans watched from the public gallery.

Her honour Judge Jane Moulder found in favour of Mr Belokon’s argument, after he claimed he did not agree to the Blackpool FC hotel on Bloomfield Road being built, following his investment of nearly £5m in the club in 2008 prior to the team’s Premier League promotion.

The exact amount owed still has to be worked out by accountants.

Karl Oyston had claimed Mr Belokon was trying to obtain money he was not entitled to and had accused the businessman of trying to ‘claim his pound of flesh’ over the hotel.

It is understood the hotel has lost around £368,000 since it opened.

Although some of the hotel is in the south stand which Mr Belokon invested in, a big portion is in the south east corner which Mr Belokon is nothing to do with.

The argument was between Blackpool FC (Properties) Ltd - formerly known as Segesta Ltd,owned by the Oyston family - and JSC Baltic International Bank, which is Mr Belokon’s firm.

Her honour Judge Moulder, sitting at Manchester’s Civil Justice Centre said: “The investment agreement does not commit the deduction from income of sums with the aid of money borrowed from Blackpool Football Club.

She added: “The investment agreement does not provide for losses suffered by the hotel to be deducted in calculating income, nor on the evidence was there a subsequent agreement between the parties to the effect that such losses could be deducted.

“Further the investment agreement does not provide for an amount to be deducted in respect of notional rent in respect of that part of the hotel which is located outside the scope of the development and the evidence does not establish any subsequent agreement to that effect.”

Fraser Campbell, acting on behalf of Mr Belokon, had told the civil hearing in December the hotel had been built illegally as it had not been signed off by Mr Belokon.

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

It is understood 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.

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 Belokon’s legal team requested a £978,152 interim payment from the Oyston’s firm to be awarded, but the judge adjourned the application to allow him to respond.

Representing the Oystons, Eric Shannon requested the case was adjourned adding: “It’s a substantial sum, a million pounds. In fairness to the party one shouldn’t be left shooting from the hip to deal with it.”

The judge said: “It seems to me this is a matter where the defendant is entitled to a proper opportunity to respond to the application - it may make no difference to the outcome but I bear in mind the draft judgement only went out at the beginning of this week.

“Justice and fairness do demand the defendant has a proper opportunity to respond to this application for an interim payment.”

Oyston’s lawyers also sought to appeal the case, but the judge did not grant permission, although she indicated they had the right to take the case to the Court of Appeal.

She permitted a £425,000 interim costs order to be granted.

The parties will return to court in four weeks for a hearing about the figures.

Fans applauded as the judge left court and shouted “Oyston out”.

Eric Shannon, counsel for Blackpool Football Club (Properties) Ltd, said in a statement: “This case confirmed a joint venture entered into between BFC Properties Ltd. the holding company of Blackpool FC, and Valeri Belokon’s company, VBF, to develop the south stand and south west corner of the stadium.

“Parties disagreed as to the deductions that could properly be made before distributions to each of them.

“BFC Properties Ltd put in many millions of pounds to complete the construction of the stands.

“The claimant seeks a payment in the region of £1m from BFC Properties Ltd.

“BFC Properties LTd is disappointed that the court has found against it and is considering whether to appeal.”