BELOKON WINS: Latvian awarded £31.2m

Valeri Belokon, left, and Owen Oyston
Valeri Belokon, left, and Owen Oyston

The Oyston family must pay Valeri Belokon £31.2m after a judge found in the Latvian's favour following a bitter High Court battle.

LIVE: Oystons vs Belokon High Court judgement day

Valeri Belokon

Valeri Belokon

Justice Marcus Smith found that the Oyston family, the owners of Blackpool Football Club, acted improperly and paid £42m to their own companies.

The judge has also indicated he is ordering Owen and Karl Oyston to buy out Belokon's shares in the club.

Belokon, who bought a 20 per cent stake in the club in 2006, must now be regarded as a 50 per cent owner.

The decision was greeted by cheers by the 53 Blackpool fans who were in attendance at the Rolls Building in London.

Belokon's company, VB Football Assets, a minor shareholder in Blackpool, brought an action against the Oystons and their companies alleging that they had shown unfair prejudice against shareholders.

Lawyers for VB Football complained that both Mr Belokon and his nominated directors were excluded from key decisions, information and share of profits.

Owen Oyston, Blackpool's majority shareholder, and his son Karl, the club's chairman, denied the accusations during a lengthy civil trial in London earlier this year before Mr Justice Marcus Smith.

They gave evidence that all financial transactions were conducted in an open and transparent manner.

The judge announced his decision on the dispute on Monday, ruling that there had been unfair prejudice.

After further discussion in court the judge ruled that a "financial buy-out" was the appropriate course following his findings.

It is understood that Blackpool will now have to purchase the interests of VB Football Assets for £31.27 million.

The judge ordered the buy-out jointly against Blackpool Football Club (Properties) Ltd, a company with Oyston family links formerly known as Segesta, and Owen Oyston and Karl Oyston, but not against the football club itself.

Mr Belokon, who resigned as a director of the club in August, had accused the Oystons of "improperly" extracting tens of millions of pounds from the Lancashire club's funds after it enjoyed a cash "jackpot" after winning promotion to the Premier League in 2010.

He claimed they had treated the club as "their own personal cash machine" and said in a witness statement that he felt "betrayed" by the Oystons.

Alan Steinfeld QC, appearing for the club and the Oystons, told the judge that all payments were made "lawfully, openly with no attempt at concealment, and every single one of them was ratified by the board".

Mr Belokon, he argued, had suffered no unfair prejudice.

The judge refused the Oyston's right to appeal but they are likely to take their case to the Court of Appeal instead.

Neither Owen or Karl Oyston were present for the hearing.

You can read the full 163-page court judgement here.