EFL could be 'standing in the way' of regime change at Blackpool FC

EFL chief executive Shaun Harvey
EFL chief executive Shaun Harvey

Supporters have expressed fears the English Football League (EFL) could stand in the way of Valeri Belokon taking over Blackpool Football Club.

In September, Blackpool FC - in a statement issued through former chairman Karl Oyston - announced that Belokon had failed the EFL’s Owners’ and Directors’ Test and was subsequently banned from holding high office.

Tim Fielding, honorary vice president of BST

Tim Fielding, honorary vice president of BST

The disqualification came about as a result of a criminal conviction and 20-year jail sentence that is highly disputed by Belokon’s representatives, who claim it was handed down by a “kangaroo court” in Kyrgyzstan and is not recognised in Latvia, nor the European Union.

It is understood Belokon’s lawyers are considering taking legal action against the EFL in a bid to overturn his ban, which is currently under review.

Currently, should Belokon come to an agreement with Owen Oyston over the running of the club, the Latvian would be unable to take over.

That has led to calls from Blackpool supporters for the EFL to act and overturn Belokon’s ban as soon as possible.

READ MORE: Belokon ‘disqualified’ following Football League investigation

Tim Fielding, honorary vice president of Blackpool Supporters’ Trust (BST), says the EFL could potentially be standing in the way of regime change at the football club.

Speaking at BST’s general meeting on Saturday, he said: “The EFL have got a very important role to play here.

“It is not like the EFL have not seen what has gone on. Justice Marcus Smith has made it quite clear.

“So you’d like to think they could apply some common sense, but that does not seem to feature very highly at the EFL.

“So this is something BST can try and address, because the EFL could be standing in the way of a potential solution.

“It will be hugely frustrating if Owen and Valeri do come to an agreement but the EFL get in the way.

“There’s a 160-page judgement which sets it out clearly who is the most suitable person to run a football club - and it’s not Owen Oyston.”

Andy Higgins, vice chair of BST, has received no assurances in his recent communications with the EFL.

He added: “The EFL has shown no appetite to do anything, despite a High Court judge saying the Oystons stripped the football club.

“Despite all the evidence they have still not acted and yet they are supposed to be our governing body.

“I have never come across an organisation quite as opaque. It is a private company owned by the 72 clubs. Yet they say they will back the fans, but their interest is with the owners.

“They are probably the enemy of the fans.

“They have sat back and allowed all this to happen. There is potentially going to be a big issue for us down the line.”

An EFL Spokesman said: “The EFL remains in regular dialogue with Mr Belokon’s legal representatives and these will continue as required.
“In regard to any potential change of control at the club, our requirements remain clear and are clearly set out within our regulations.

“Blackpool FC will be treated no differently to any other club who participate in the EFL.”