FORMER Bolton Wanderers players Zatiyah Knight and Sean Davis have been told their long-running court claims over a controversial film investment scheme can still go ahead.

Knight and Davis, alongside ex-Blackburn Rovers players Ian Pearce, Robbie Savage, Andy Cole and Danny Murphy, are among eight retired professional footballers caught up in legal action over money they pumped into initiatives which were later condemned as tax-avoidance measures.

Other claimants, in one of number of cases involving Knightsbridge Asset Management Ltd, later known as Formation, include the former manager Martin O'Neill and ex-Charlton boss Chris Powell.

Under the film scheme, the footballers would be asked to make an investment in a British-made movie, with a second substantial investment coming from Formation.

If the film was profitable, the player would reap the rewards. But if the film project made a trading loss then this could be offset against the footballer's personal tax bill.

HM Revenue and Customs removed such tax advantages though and challenged any schemes it was felt had been established simply for tax avoidance

Carpenter Rees Ltd (CRL), which Formation/Knightsbridge is said to have represented, had applied to the High Court for their claims to be kicked out, on the basis they were time-barred.

Lawyers allege CRL, through Formation/Knightsbridge's conduct between 2005 and 2007, had acted negligently in advising the former footballers and failed in its duty of care to their interests.

Michael Poole QC, for CRL, said legal letters updating the claimants about HMRC's approach to the film investment schemes were sent to them on October 30 and November 1, 2012.

This would have provided them with the "requisite knowledge" of what was occurring, ahead of any proposed legal action, he told the court.

The Business and Property Court heard that the footballers' claims were lodged in early November 2015 - just over the three-year qualifying period for such actions.

Graham Chapman QC, for Davis, said the letter to the footballer had been sent to his former address in Wimbledon, after he had transferred to Wanderers in 2009.

And the court heard Knight's correspondence went to an apartment in Birmingham. The player had moved from Aston Villa to Bolton, also in 2009, and only returned to Birmingham twice a week.

Knight recalled that he had played two games, around the end of October and start of November, which was also the time when a new Wanderers manager (Dougie Freedman), had just been appointed.

Ruling in favour of the footballers though, Mr Justice Nugee said: "One suspects that professional footballers or managers would have many other things to think about during the season, and that the reaction of many would have been to refer the whole thing to their financial adviser to tell them what it meant for them and what if anything they ought to do, rather than trying to work it out for themselves."

The judge said that the correspondence, in which Formation claimed it was advising their clients to settle, as HMRC had been taking a tougher stance over such schemes, was not completely clear in spelling out the eventual financial implications for the claimants.

Further hearings on the footballers' claims against CRL will be heard at a later date.