Sky Bet League One club Blackpool have been put up for sale by the Oyston family.
The Seasiders confirmed the decision in a statement on Friday afternoon, which follows a High Court ruling against the Oyston family, who were ordered to pay £31.27million to former club president Valeri Belokon.
VB Football Assets, the company of millionaire businessman Belokon, a minor shareholder in Blackpool, brought legal action against the Oystons and their companies alleging they had shown unfair prejudice against shareholders.
Lawyers for VB Football complained that both Mr Belokon and his nominated directors were excluded from key decisions, information and share of profits.
Owen Oyston, Blackpool’s majority shareholder, and his son Karl, the club’s chairman, denied the accusations during a lengthy civil trial in London earlier this year before Mr Justice Marcus Smith, who announced his decision on the dispute on Monday.
After further discussion in court the judge ruled that a ‘financial buy-out’ was the appropriate course following his findings, and that an initial £10m should be paid within 28 days.
Blackpool’s club statement confirmed the Oystons, who were refused permission to appeal by the High Court, were to apply directly to the Court of Appeal in order to further argue their case.
The League One side are now seeking ‘expressions of interest’ made to an independent nominee, which represents the first step towards eventual change of ownership at Bloomfield Road.
A club statement issued on Friday afternoon read: ‘The directors of Blackpool Football Club and Blackpool Football Club Properties are now in a position, following the conclusion of litigation, to market for sale Blackpool Football Club Limited and Blackpool Football Club Properties Limited.
‘Substantial, external, non-football revenue is a major component of the properties business.
‘Following the recent High Court judgement, legal counsel for the respondents have been instructed to apply for leave to appeal elements of the judgement with immediate effect.
‘In the interim period, as throughout the litigation process, the focus of the football club’s board remains on supporting the manager and continuing to negate the impact of off-field issues.’
Blackpool were a Premier League side in 2010-11 before dropping down the divisions.
However, Gary Bowyer’s team won promotion back to League One last season after victory in the play-off final at Wembley, where many Seasiders supporters decided to continue their boycott.
The Blackpool Supporters’ Trust has long called for a change of ownership and chair Christine Seddon welcomed Friday’s news.
‘I really do feel overwhelmed. I have never doubted that this day would come, I just didn’t know when,’ she said, quoted by the Blackpool Gazette.
‘We are very confident that there are decent people out there that will buy this club. It’s like Christmas and birthdays all come early at once.’
1988: Owen Oyston buys Blackpool, then in the third tier, for £1 to save it from going bankrupt.
1990: Oyston promises to build a £60million ‘soccer city’ to replace Blackpool’ s dilapidated stadium at Bloomfield Road.
1996: Oyston is found guilty of rape and jailed for six years. His wife, Vicki, starts running the club.
1999: Karl Oyston, Vicki and Owen’s son, takes charge of the club amid fan protests over Vicki’s chairmanship.
2000: Grants from the Football League kick-start work on Bloomfield Road at last.
2006: Valeri Belokon buys a 20 per cent stake in Blackpool, investing in the team and Bloomfield Road’s continuing redevelopment.
2010: Blackpool are promoted to the Premier League for the first time.
2011: Blackpool are relegated. Owen Oyston pays himself an £11m salary and millions more of the club’s cash is loaned to other Oyston businesses.
2014: Owen and Karl begin suing fans who criticise their ownership on internet forums. Five managers come and go in the space of two years and 27 players leave before the start of the 2014-15 season.
2015: Karl is charged by the FA after calling a fan ‘a massive retard’ in a text-message row as the Oystons step up their libel cases against fans. On-pitch problems intensify: more managers are sacked and the club are relegated to League One.
2016: Blackpool drop into League Two, suffering a second successive relegation. Fans increase protests, with thousands boycotting Bloomfield Road.
2017: Manager Gary Bowyer leads the club into League One via the play-offs. The Oystons are ordered to pay £31m to Belokon after a court ruled they had failed to pass on profits to the Latvian. Four days later, the Oystons put the club up for sale.