Belokon court case can still be avoided, says Blackpool chairman

Karl Oyston (left) and Valeri Belokon
Karl Oyston (left) and Valeri Belokon
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Blackpool chairman Karl Oyston says there is still a chance the huge court case involving his family and Valeri Belokon could be settled out of court.

The rival parties are expected in the London High Court this week to start proceedings in what is expected to be one of British football’s most expensive court cases.

Belokon, the club’s president, is pursuing a claim for “unfair prejudice” against the Oystons and accusing them of stripping the club of funds.

It comes after the Latvian businessman won a previous case heard in Manchester in February of this year – a battle over his share of profits from Bloomfield Road’s South Stand.

Belokon’s winnings are still to be decided, but whatever sum he is awarded will pale in comparison with what is at stake in the forthcoming case – it has been estimated the club president could win upwards of £20m if he is victorious.

That has given Blackpool fans opposed to the Oyston regime hope that the outcome of the case could trigger a change of ownership at the club.

Asked if there was a chance the case could be settled out of court, Karl Oyston said: “There’s always that chance where common sense prevails but we’ll see.

“It’s never too late to settle these things and it’s probably in everyone’s interest to settle it. Valeri’s got far bigger fish to fry elsewhere in the world right now than to be messing around in London for five weeks.”

The battle between the two parties intensified back in March, when the club agreed to suspend Belokon with immediate effect following disputed allegations of money laundering. That is an issue the Oystons’ legal team are expected to raise in this hearing, which is anticipated to last between five and six weeks.

Oyston added: “I don’t think you can ever be confident about how a court case will go because you can never guess a court process.

“If you’re trying to assess wins or losses, then a lot of people will have assessed the first case as a loss.

“Well, if I had invested £5m or £6m in a property scheme and been awarded £1m back, I wouldn’t be particularly happy.

“I don’t think either side are ever particularly happy in court cases. But I think as long as the situation is resolved, which isn’t particularly pleasant with the conflict that there is, then I think we’ll all be able to move on and know where we are.”

Oyston also says he doesn’t expect this summer’s case to have a negative effect on the club, whatever the final judgement.

He added: “We’re trying to minimise any impact as far as we’re able to and we’ve achieved that so far, so I don’t see any reason why that should change.”