Belokon ‘disqualified’ following Football League investigation

Karl Oyston, left, and Valeri Belokon
Karl Oyston, left, and Valeri Belokon

Blackpool FC’s ex-director Valeri Belokon has been disqualifed from holding high office by the English Football League (EFL), it was revealed today.

The EFL today confirmed Mr Belokon had failed the league’s Owners’ and Directors’ Test.

The ban means Mr Belokon cannot hold any high profile role at an English league club, despite still holding the title of Club President at Blackpool.

The test is designed to “protect the image and integrity of The League and its competitions”.

The EFL confirmed that the decision to ban Mr Belokon had been made. However, a spokesman said it was not the league’s policy to comment on the reasons behind the decision.

Within hours of receiving details of the decision, Blackpool FC suspended Mr Belokon’s ‘representative and employee’ Kaspars Varpins from the board with immediate effect.

A spokesman for the club said: “Throughout the tenure of Kaspars Varpins on the BFC Board, he has been unable to make decisions or act without Valeri Belokon’s prior consent.”

The proposed re-appointment of Normunds Malnacs as a new member of the board will also be blocked.

Last month 57-year-old Mr Belokon resigned as a director saying it is in the best interests of the club for him to step aside considering his legal disputes with the Oyston family.

Today Blackpool FC owner Karl Oyston said he had acted “with immediate effect” to remove any of Mr Belokon’s remaining influence from the club.

He said: “Once the league had announced its decision, we had no choice but to act to remove anyone who we felt was influenced by him.

“We believe that Kaspars is under the control of Valeri and he has been suspended.

“At board meetings he has only been able to act after receiving instructions from Valeri. Once Valeri failed the Owners’ and Directors’ test, we had to remove anyone from the board who we believed was still in his sphere of incluence.

“The EFL asked for information during its investigation, which was instigated by the League. The EFL made its own decision based on that information, matters uncovered during the investigation and any items Valeri may have provided at the request of the EFL.

“My opinion is that Valeri knew what was coming and that prompted his resignation from the board. The EFL’s decision was based on their own rules and regulations. We were concerned to remove any influence that Valeri could still exercise.”

Mr Belokon said: “I respect and understand the decision of the EFL, since it should be based on certain rules and procedures.

“I have already left the director’s post, believing that it would be more beneficial to the development of the club.

“Kaspars and Normunds are dedicated professionals and their work could add a lot to the club’s successful work and promotion.”

In a statement, Blackpool FC said: “The Club requested Valeri Belokon to provide copies of the correspondence that took place between himself, his legal advisors and The EFL or FA prior to his resignation. This correspondence was not produced.

“Valeri Belokon, at the time of his resignation, he also proposed to replace himself on the Board with Normunds Malnacs, who as Valeri Belokon’s previous representative on the BFC Board.

“The proposed re-appointment of Normunds Malnacs as a new member of the Board would also have fallen under the rules of Mr Belokon’s disqualification. Therefore, neither Kaspars Varpins or Normunds Malnacs, or any individual linked to or influenced by Valeri Belokon, are eligible to be Board members.”

The Club’s Board will discuss the composition, and changes to the membership of the Board, at the next scheduled Board meeting. It is likely that at least two new Board members will be invited to join the board.

The spokesman added: “The Club’s Board is committed to continuing the recovery of the Club’s fortunes on the pitch and will not allow any distractions to adversely influence the fantastic work of the manager, coaching staff and players.”

MR Belokon took out a 20 per cent stake in Blackpool FC in 2006, his investment contributing to the development of the Armfield Stand and the club’s rise to the Premier League in 2010. His relationship with the club’s owners, the Oystons, has soured in recent years, culminating in two high-profile court cases during 2017.

Belokon won the first in February, concerning money from the Blackpool FC hotel. A ruling in the second case, in which Belokon claimed “unfair prejudice” against him, is expected later in the year. Blackpool FC suspended Belokon from the board in March following disputed allegations of money laundering.