Blackpool FC is facing civil war after Valeri Belokon filed High Court proceedings against Owen Oyston which could force the owner to sell the club.
Latvian businessman Belokon, who is Blackpool FC’s president, launched the action via his company VB Football Assets yesterday after more than 12 months’ preparation.
It is understood Belokon has issued a claim under the Companies Act 2006, relating to ‘unfair prejudice against shareholders’.
Section 994 of that act states: “A member of a company may apply to the Court by petition for an order on the ground that the company’s affairs are being or have been conducted in a manner that is unfairly prejudicial to the interests of members generally or of some part of its members (including at least himself), or that an actual or proposed act or omission of the company (including an act or omission on its behalf) is or would be so prejudicial.”
Belokon bought a 20 per cent share of the club in 2006 and was heavily involved at boardroom level during Pool’s rise from League One to the Premier League.
Along with Owen Oyston, Belokon famously funded the signing of Charlie Adam and contributed towards the building of Bloomfield Road’s South Stand.
Belokon, who had a well-publicised row with club chairman Karl Oyston last year, has since revealed that he has met with Owen Oyston.
Assuming no out-of-court deal can be reached, the parties will embark on a long and expensive legal battle which could conceivably end in Belokon taking control of Pool.
The High Court could also order compensation to be paid. The Oyston family may be forced to buy Belokon’s shares at a set price or even to sell their shares to Belokon.
Alternatively, it could throw out Belokon’s claims or issue a slap on the wrist and a warning about future conduct.
No-one from Blackpool FC or the Oyston family was available for comment last night but Belokon did release a statement to The Gazette.
It read: “Valeri Belokon confirms that yesterday his company VB Football Assets (a shareholder in Blackpool Football Club) issued a claim for unfair prejudice in the London High Court against Messrs Owen Oyston and Karl Oyston and their company Segesta Limited.
“Mr Belokon also confirms that VB Football Assets has issued related proceedings against Segesta Limited concerning an investment it made in July 2008.
“Belokon has filed the claim mainly because, since the club’s promotion to the Premier League, millions of pounds of BFC monies were transferred to Oystons’ companies via unsecured interest-free loans and directors’ remuneration payments.”
Belokon, 55, has remained silent since speaking exclusively to The Gazette in February, when he complained the club was paying no heed to his views or wishes.
What isn’t yet clear is whether Belokon’s legal action forms part of a bid to buy Blackpool FC or simply to recover the money he has invested.