The owners of Blackpool FC are accused of using the football club as their "family’s personal cash machine" in a court case that could prove to be one of the most expensive in British footballing history.
At the High Court Andrew Green QC alleged the Oyston family had improperly taken millions from club funds and used the money for their own benefit.
He accused Owen and Karl Oyston, majority owner and chairman of the Lancashire club respectively, of adopting a deliberate strategy to take money out of the club, in a way that its nominated directors could do nothing to stop.
The payments system instituted in the management of the club, he alleged, was the antithesis of transparency.
Lawyers representing the club’s president, Latvian millionaire Valeri Belokon, are pursuing a case against the Oystons for unfair prejudice against shareholders.
The case is also against Blackpool FC Ltd itself and Blackpool FC (Properties) Ltd.
The Oystons are vigorously denying the claims.
The court heard that VB Football Assets, Mr Belekon’s company and a minor shareholder in the club, was denied crucial information and a say in important decisions – as well as a share of profits.
Speaking at the beginning of a five-week hearing, Mr Green said that Blackpool FC received an unprecedented influx of funds since entering the Premier League, including £48m in the 2010-11 season, followed by £58m after the club’s relegation.
Owen and Karl Oyston have treated Blackpool Football Club as the Oystons’ personal cash machine, Mr Green told Mr Justice Marcus Smith, sitting in London.
The case follows years of controversy surrounding the Oyston family’s ownership of Blackpool FC.
In 2015 fans attacked the directors’ box of Blackpool’s Bloomfield Road stadium with eggs, smoke bombs and fireworks, in protest at Karl Oyston’s stewardship of the club.
Mr Belekon won a court case against the Oystons in Manchester earlier this year. The dispute concerned a share of profits following a £4.7m contribution to the development of the club’s stadium.
Mr Belekone was suspended from the board of the club in March, after a judgement by the Paris Court of Appeal regarding disputed allegations of money laundering in banks he started or owned.
(c) Sky News 2017: Blackpool FC ‘used as personal cash machine’ by owners Oyston family