Blackpool: High Court appoints receiver over £25m owed to Valeri Belokon

Blackpool finished 12th in League One last season
Blackpool finished 12th in League One last season

Blackpool have been put into receivership by the High Court, forcing owner Owen Oyston to pay ex-director Valeri Belokon the £25m he is owed.

The ruling could pave the way for a takeover, but the English Football League must now decide whether to dock the League One club 12 points.

Oyston, 85, was ordered to buy Belokon out for £31.27m in November 2017.

The EFL said in a statement that they will "consider the matter" at their next meeting on 6 March.

Chief executive Shaun Harvey said: "We will be seeking an early meeting with the receiver, so as to ensure that the best interests of the club can be jointly considered, against the context of our regulatory framework."

According to EFL regulations, any club that becomes subject to an insolvency event, including the appointment of a receiver, could be deducted 12 points.

The receiver will be asked to discharge some of Oyston's assets, plus those of Blackpool Football Club (Properties) Ltd, which owns the football club, stadium, training ground and nearby Travelodge, reported the Blackpool Gazette.

In a statement, Belokon's legal team from Clifford Chance LLP, said they hoped the decision would "herald a new chapter in the proud history of a prestigious club".

"The application was a ground-breaking one in the football industry, with the judge confirming that it was in the interests of justice for the appointment to be made," it said.

"It potentially marks a watershed moment for Blackpool Football Club and its loyal fanbase."

What led to Wednesday's court date?

Belokon has been in dispute with Oyston for several years and won a High Court case in 2017 when he successfully sued Oyston and his son Karl, the club's former chief executive, after discovering that they had "asset-stripped" Blackpool by paying themselves huge bonuses and salaries following the club's season in the Premier League in 2010-11.

The Latvian businessman was awarded more than £31m but after several missed deadlines is still owed £25m.

Oyston, who bought the club in 1988, claimed last year that Belokon had refused the opportunity to take over Blackpool for £5m.

However, Belokon, who bought a 20% stake in the Tangerines in 2006, is currently disqualified from club ownership after being given a 20-year jail term in Kyrgyzstan for "money laundering, tax evasion and dishonesty" in his absence in May 2017.

He subsequently failed the English Football League's Owners' and Directors' Test in September 2017.

Despite this, Belokon said in April he was working with the EFL to reverse the decision to disqualify him because it ignored "basic principles of natural justice".

Blackpool are eighth in the third tier but a 12-point deduction would leave them just two points above the relegation zone.

A large section of the club's supporters have boycotted matches and held protests against the Oyston family for several years over their running of the Lancashire club.

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