Clifford Chance has won the first round of a multi-million pound dispute between the owners of Blackpool FC.

The matter was featured as one of The Lawyer’s Top 20 cases for 2017, with its legal fees already nearing the £1.5m mark.

The case was brought by Blackpool FC club president and Latvian millionaire Valeri Belokon, who claims that when the club was promoted to the Premier League, the majority owners (the Oyston family) took tens of millions of pounds out of the club.

He also alleges that revenue had been withheld to recoup capital expenditure in relation to a development in Blackpool FC’s stadium.

At the hearing yesterday (23 February) in Manchester’s High Court, Clifford Chance partner Chris Yates and Blackstone Chambers’ Andrew Green QC and Fraser Campbell represented Blackpool FC club president and Latvian millionaire Valeri Belokon.

The defendants, the Oyston family, were represented by HHB Law managing director Richard Bell and XXIV Old Buildings’ Alan Steinfeld QC.

The court rejected the Oyston family’s argument that an agreement was made over investment money in 2010.

The defendants are understood to be paying £425,000 in costs to Belokon, while the latter is also believed to be applying for an interim payment based on outstanding debts of around £1m.

This summer, an unfair prejudice petition will be heard at London’s Companies Court against the Oyston’s management of the Club. The hearing will last five weeks.

For the claimant, VB Football Assets

Blackstone Chambers’ Andrew Green QC and Fraser Campbell, instructed by Clifford Chance partner Chris Yates, senior associate James Cranston and associate Emma Mack

For the defendant, Blackpool FC (formerly Segesta Ltd)

XXIV Old Buildings’ Alan Steinfeld QC, instructed by HHB Law solicitor and managing director Richard Bell