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Owners of Blackpool FC accused of treating the club as a "personal cash machine"

Bloomfield Road, home of Blackpool FC Credit: PA images

The Oyston family, owners of Blackpool FC, have been been accused at the High Court of treating the club as "the family's personal cash machine".

Lawyers for Latvian millionaire Valeri Belokon, the club's president, were launching what could prove to be one of British football's most expensive legal actions.

Andrew Green QC alleged on Monday at the start of a five-week hearing that Owen and Karl Oyston, owner and chairman of the Lancashire club, had "improperly" extracted millions of pounds from its funds following promotion to the Premier League in 2010 and used the money for their own benefit.

Mr Belokon's company VB Football Assets, a minor shareholder in the club, was excluded from key decisions, information and any share of profits, said Mr Green.

VB Football 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 what has developed into a bitter legal battle.

Mr Green told Mr Justice Marcus Smith, sitting in London, that as a result of the Seasiders reaching the Premier League, the club received some £106 million.

The unprecedented influx of cash over five years from the Premier included £48 million in respect of the 2010/11 season, followed by some £58 million in "parachute payments" following Blackpool's relegation at the end of the season.

Mr Green said: "Owen and Karl Oyston have treated Blackpool Football Club as the Oystons' personal cash machine."

The QC said the family's case was that at all times they had been transparent and open in relations to payments made out of the club.

"Our case is that this is simply inconsistent when you consider the documents.

"There was, in fact, the adoption of a deliberate strategy by the Oyston family to take cash out of Blackpool Football Club, and do so in a way VB Football Assets and its nominated directors could do nothing to stop that was the antithesis of transparency."

Mr Belokon won a court case in Manchester in February this year in a dispute with the Oystons over his share of profits after he provided #4.7 million in July 2008 to develop the south stand and south-west corner of the club's stadium.

That case was brought by JSC Baltic International Bank, owned by Mr Belokon, against Segesta Ltd, the holding company for the club's assets.

In March, the club announced Mr Belokon was being suspended from its board as a result of a judgement in the Paris Court of Appeal related to disputed allegations of money laundering involving two banks founded or owned by him.

Man in hospital after explosion at Blackpool home

Credit: ITV Granada

A man's being treated in hospital after an explosion at a house in Blackpool.

Part of the building collapsed after the blast in the Normoss area. The fire service says the possibility of a gas explosion is being investigated.

The semi detached house was found both the first and ground floor bay windows missing.

Neighbours had bravely climbed through the damaged windows to rescue an elderly man.

Credit: ITV Granada

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School pays tribute to Manchester attack victim Jane Tweddle-Taylor

The principal of South Shore Academy in Blackpool has paid tribute to Jane Tweddle-Taylor, another victim of the attack at Manchester Arena.

We are devastated at this sad news. Jane was a well-loved member of staff and our thoughts are with her friends and family at this terrible time. Jane was a truly wonderful friend and colleague to all of us at South Shore Academy. As our receptionist, she was in many ways, the public face of the school and she represented us amazingly in this role. We have received numerous messages of condolences from parents, students, community members and colleagues across Blackpool for which we are very grateful. All of them say the same things about our lovely Jane.... bubbly, kind, welcoming, funny, generous..... the list goes on. Our thoughts are also with her family at this dreadful time and in particular her three daughters. In our school family and theirs ...... she is irreplaceable, much loved and will never be forgotten.

– Jane Bailey - Principal, South Shore Academy

Boy, 16, arrested after attack leaves man 'critically ill'

Map shows Exchange Street in Blackpool. Credit: Google Maps.

A 16-year-old boy has been arrested following an assault which left a man fighting for his life.

The 47-year-old victim suffered significant head injuries in the attack outside the Costcutter convenience store in Exchange Street, Blackpool, at about 2.30pm on Saturday.

He was taken to Royal Preston Hospital where he is in a critical condition.

The victim is thought to have been involved in an argument with a group of people outside the shop prior to the assault.

It is believed he had previously been inside Costcutter and had also used a telephone kiosk in Exchange Street close to its junction with Cocker Street.

The teenage suspect from Blackpool is being questioned on suspicion of assault causing grievous bodily harm with intent.

"We believe several people will have seen the victim shortly before the incident occurred - perhaps in the shop or using the telephone box, or will have seen the incident itself.

"Whatever you saw, we would urge you to get in touch.

"The victim is in critical condition in hospital and we are determined to piece together exactly what occurred."

– Detective Inspector Andy Cribbin, of Lancashire Police's major investigation team
  • Anyone with information should contact Lancashire Police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
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