18 February 2019
Clifford Chance's sports group secures landmark receivership appointment in relation to Blackpool FC
Leading international law firm Clifford Chance has secured a further victory on behalf of its client, VB Football Assets (VBFA), in the long-running dispute against Owen and Karl Oyston over the ownership and management of Blackpool Football Club.
Following a hearing before Mr Justice Marcus Smith, the judge concluded that a receiver should be appointed over the assets of Blackpool Football Club (Properties) Ltd, which includes a majority shareholding in Blackpool FC, its stadium, training ground and a nearby Travelodge Hotel. Clifford Chance understands that the appointment represents the first of its kind in the football industry.
Chris Yates, Litigation partner who led the team said: "We are very pleased to secure this further victory for our client, VB Football Assets, in this long running dispute. 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 potentially marks a watershed moment for Blackpool Football Club and its loyal fanbase."
The decision comes after a November 2017 judgment in which the same judge found that the Oystons had unfairly prejudiced VBFA's shareholding in Blackpool FC by extracting in excess of £26 million in disguised dividends, following the Club's lucrative promotion to the Premier League in 2010. Consequently, Owen Oyston, Karl Oyston and Blackpool Football Club (Properties) Ltd were ordered to buy out VBFA's shareholding in the Club for £31.27 million.
Despite the efforts of VBFA, profound difficulties were encountered in enforcing the judgment debt, of which in the region of £25 million remains outstanding. It was on that basis that VBFA sought the appointment of a receiver by way of equitable execution. Such an order is unusual, enabling the receiver to take control of assets which would otherwise not be susceptible to the ordinary processes of enforcement.
Chris Yates was supported by James Cranston, Emma Mack and Rory Scott. The team was further assisted by finance Partner John MacLennan and Senior Associate Giles Allison.
Clifford Chance has a leading Sports Group which has recently advised the majority shareholder in Arsenal FC on its takeover, Multiplex Constructions Limited on disputes arising from the construction of Wembley National Stadium and the firm was the Official Law Firm of Rugby World Cup 2015.