Blackpool Football Club owner Owen Oyston has spectacularly claimed Monday’s legal enforcement action was “unlawful” and has issued a claim for damages.
Valeri Belokon, who is still owed in the region of £25m following November’s High Court judgement, sent in the bailiffs to Bloomfield Road on Monday to crank up the pressure on the Oystons.
Having missed January’s deadline to pay a second installment of £10m, Oyston was told in no uncertain terms by a High Court judge that he must pay up immediately or face the consequences of enforcement action being taken to make him sell his assets.
But, in a statement issued through his representatives, Oyston has claimed the action was unlawful and has obtained an interim injunction from the High Court.
The statement read: “Mr Oyston was informed by his legal advisers that the action undertaken by the High Court enforcement officers was unlawful.
“As a result, Mr Oyston has instructed his legal team who have issued a claim for a final injunction and damages.
“That claim was issued in the High Court this morning.
“In the meantime, Mr Oyston has obtained an interim injunction restraining the High Court enforcement officers from unlawful enforcement pending a further hearing.
“Mr Oyston will not make any further comment at this time.”
Just before lunchtime on Monday, 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.
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.
Clifford Chance confirmed to The Gazette that Belokon is “continuing to take steps to enforce the payment of the judgment debt that is owed to him”.
They also made it clear Belokon was not out to harm the football club and the action was solely being taken against Owen Oyston as an individual.
In court last month, it was found Oyston had failed to progress the sale of assets, which had prejudiced Mr Belokon, and the Court of Appeal had dismissed his application to overturn the original court judgement 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.
Representatives for Valeri Belokon have been contacted for comment.