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Friday 15 December 2017

President of Blackpool 'felt betrayed' by Oyston family

Valeri Belokon is Blackpool's club president
Valeri Belokon is Blackpool's club president

The president of Blackpool has told the High Court that he felt "betrayed" by Owen and Karl Oyston - the owner and chairman - as they took millions of pounds out of the club.

Latvian millionaire banker Valeri Belokon expressed his dismay at seeing the money, which had flowed in as a result of promotion to the Premier League, extracted in the same period that the Seasiders were relegated and tumbled down to League Two.

Mr Belokon said in a witness statement: "If even a small proportion of these substantial sums had been used to purchase and pay players, I believe the club would never have found itself in its current position."

Mr Belokon said: "Following the first payments in 2010, I was less involved in the club as I felt betrayed by Owen and Karl Oyston and have since had to endure watching this great club relegated three times since it reached its heights in the Premier League."

His QC Andrew Green had earlier accused the Oystons of treating the Lancashire club as "the family's personal cash machine".

In what could prove to be one of British football's most expensive legal actions, VB Football Assets, a minor shareholder in the club owned by Mr Belokon, is pursing a claim against the Oystons for "unfair prejudice" against shareholders.

The claim is also against Blackpool FC Ltd itself and Blackpool FC (Properties) Ltd, a company with family links formerly known as Segesta.

The Oystons are vigorously denying the claims in a bitter five-week legal battle.

On Tuesday, the second day of the hearing, Mr Belokon went into the witness box to face cross-examination on his written statement with the aid of a Russian language interpreter.

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