Ex-Pool owner Owen Oyston loses another court battle
Owen Oyston, the former owner of Blackpool Football Club, has lost yet another High Court battle – this time against the official receivers.
In November 2017 Mr Oyston was ordered by a judge to pay minority shareholder Latvian millionaire Valeri Belokon £31m for his 20 per cent stake in the club after finding that the then club chairman had “illegally stripped” money from the club when it was promoted to the Premier League in 2010.
Over the next two years the parties returned again and again to the Business and Property Courts in London as Mr Belokon tried to ensure he received his money.
High Court judge Mr Justice Marcus Smith repeatedly criticised Oyston for being reluctant to disclose his financial affairs and assets and not meeting payment deadlines.
Receivers were eventually appointed by the court on 13 February 2019 over the shares and properties held by Oyston and the company, Segesta Ltd, later known as Blackpool Football Club Properties Ltd, and now as Denaxe Ltd.
Those assets included shares in Segesta (Oyston owned 97 per cent of its shares); Segesta’s 76 per cent of shares in Blackpool Football Club Limited, which operated Blackpool FC, Blackpool FC’s stadium, training ground, and a Travelodge.
There were also eight residential properties.
The receivers were David Rubin and Paul Cooper.
They were conditionally discharged from their roles on 19 December 2019, following a settlement between Mr Oyston and Mr Belokon two days earlier – just as the sale of the Travelodge was about to be completed for £7.9m.
At the latest court hearing, instigated by Oyston and heard over two days last month, he and Denaxe challenged the amount of money the official receivers took from the realisation of the assets in fees, costs, and disbursements – claiming they were “too high, excessive, unreasonable or disproportionate.”
The sale of the football assets as a package was completed in June 2019 for £8.2m.
Included were the BFC shares, the stadium, and two of the residential properties.
In total the receivers realised £8,937,544 and paid over to Mr Belokon £7,335,774.
As at 19 December 2019, the receivers had paid fees to themselves of £600,000 and were still owed £360,137.
But in his reserved written judgement, Mr Justice Smith said although the receivers had not won on every point, he did not consider that any discount should be made.
“The receivers were entitled to take the approach they did on these issues,” he said.
He added that they were of a “high standard, competent, and capable” and the receivership was complex.
He asked the receivers to put together a draft account, including sums still outstanding, for Oyston and Denaxe to agree.
If they cannot, they should come back to court within three weeks.
In his judgement, Mr Justice Smith said it was “likely” – as the receivers had stated – that “Oyston’s desire to settle the proceedings was in a direct response to the threat of the extension of the receivership and the imminent sale of the Travelodge”.
The receivers also said: “From the outset of the receivership, the receivers encountered obstructive conduct from the claimants and their legal representatives. This had a significant impact on the Receivers’ time-costs and legal costs.”
The judge said he accepted the accuracy of that statement.
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