Penal notice served for Blackpool FC owner Owen Oyston’s £25m debt

Owen Oyston still has a 25m debt hanging over his head
Owen Oyston still has a 25m debt hanging over his head

A penal notice issued to Owen Oyston in the latest court hearing in the long-running saga with Valeri Belokon came into effect earlier this week.

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High Court judge Justice Marcus Smith issued the order, which carries the threat of jail, to the owner of Blackpool Football Club as a warning to pay the remaining £25m he owes Belokon.

When asked about the court order, Oyston - who now has 14 days to comply - said: “We’ll comply. I don’t know what the big issue or concern is.”

Failure to comply with the order would render him liable to contempt proceedings under which he could be jailed, fined or face seizure of his assets.

In the most latest court hearing, held in London on October 24, Oyston was warned by Justice Marcus Smith to pay up his remaining £25m debt and stop disobeying court orders.

The court was told that Oyston has failed to hand over documentation of some properties and shares he owns to Belokon's solicitors so that they can be sold to realise cash to settle the debt.

The judge said a court expected its orders to be obeyed and added that a penal notice "enables other certain consequences to be triggered if there is continued disobedience."

Justice Marcus Smith ruled in favour of Belokon’s company VB Football Assets’ (VBVA) application and held that it was now time to "buttress" the court's decisions with a penal notice.

This penal notice is subject to two qualifications. Oyston has to explain in an affidavit why he cannot provide the documentation or material or what has become of it and he can set out why he says the material is not necessary.

Oyston is required to provide the documentation, such as title deeds and share certificates - including the 1,604,694 he owns in Blackpool FC (Properties) Ltd and 500 in Closelink Ltd - or be in contempt of court.

Fraser Campbell, representing Belokon in court, said the penal notice would focus Oyston’s mind so “he knows what he has to do."

One year has now passed since the ruling that the Oyston family had "illegitimately stripped" the club of millions of pounds.

Oyston was ordered to pay £31.27m to former club director Belokon, a Latvian millionaire, after a trial last November.

Oyston has been absent from Blackpool’s last three games - Gillingham, Exeter City and the home game against Accrington Stanley on Tuesday.

Belokon’s legal team Clifford Chance declined to comment.