Valeri Belokon sent in the bailiffs to crank up the pressure on the Oystons – but insisted he is not out to harm Blackpool Football Club.
The Latvian, who is still owed in the region of £25m, was described as “flexing his muscles” yesterday after bailiffs were seen entering Blackpool’s Bloomfield Road stadium.
Two vans, four bailiffs and representatives from Belokon’s lawyers Clifford Chance were sent to the Blackpool Football Club Hotel, where Owen Oyston’s offices are based.
His penthouse is also situated in the same area of the stadium as Denwis Limited, an Oyston-owned company whose principal business activity is described as the ‘letting and operating of own or leased real estate’.
Having spent around two hours inside the stadium, where it is understood they sifted through a list of goods, properties and deeds, the bailiffs then travelled to Oyston’s Quernmore Park Hall, a country house based in Lancaster.
Despite being momentarily delayed by a locked main entrance, the bailiffs spent the majority of the afternoon on the 20-acre estate.
Belokon’s legal advisers Clifford Chance confirmed legal enforcement is now underway but, when asked by The Gazette what, if anything, was seized during the raids, they failed to respond.
It comes after Justice Marcus Smith, in the High Court last month, made it clear that should the money not be forthcoming, Oyston would face the consequences of enforcement action being taken to make him sell his assets – kick-starting yesterday’s action.
Clifford Chance had earlier released the following statement: “We can confirm that our client is continuing to take steps to enforce the payment of the judgment debt that is owed to him by Owen Oyston, Karl Oyston and Blackpool Football (Properties) Limited.
“Mr Belokon emphasises that the actions being taken by bailiffs in Blackpool are not directed at Blackpool Football Club Limited or the football related assets.
“Mr Belokon continues to have the interests of the club at heart.”
Blackpool Supporters’ Trust chairman Christine Seddon welcomed the news - claiming it was Belokon’s way of “flexing his muscles” to show Oyston he means business.
“It’s been a quiet last couple of weeks so I was expecting something to happen before too long,” she said.
“My personal feeling is that Valeri has been quite reticent really given the judge has basically put everything in his hands. I think he’s given Owen plenty of time to come to some sort of arrangement.
“Clearly yesterday was him finally getting on with it, which I think most Blackpool fans will be pleased about.
“It’s interesting that he appears to be going for Oyston businesses, not the football club. Then again he’s said all along he won’t do anything to harm the club.
“That can only be a good thing and let’s see what comes from it, but at least there’s some action happening.
“Valeri is very well advised and will go with what his legal team suggest.
“We know things can go on behind the scenes before anything is seen to happen, but he seems to be doing everything the right way.
“This could just be a warning shot across the bows rather than a serious attempt to get anything of value.
“I think this is his first steps and a case of Valeri flexing his muscles a little bit.
“They’re not messing about but he does seem to be sticking by his promise of not doing anything to damage the club.
“That in turn is a good thing because it shows he’s still interested.”
The enforcement action comes after Owen Oyston was ordered to immediately pay up the £25m he still owes Belokon after missing January’s deadline to pay his second installment of £10m.
It is believed Oyston failed to meet a 5pm deadline last Friday and enforcement is now underway.
During last month’s hearing, it was also found Oyston had failed to progress the sale of assets, which had prejudiced Mr Belokon, and the Court of Appeal had now dismissed his application to overturn the original court judgment from last November.
The Oystons were ordered to buy out former director Belokon for £31.27m back in November after it was found they had illegitimately stripped the club of cash following promotion to the Premier League in 2010.
The judge found Belokon had been unfairly prejudiced and the club was put up for sale four days later. The Gazette attempted to contact Owen Oyston yesterday but received no reply.