Belfast Telegraph

Five-a-side soccer firm and Manchester City owners to jointly assault US market

Five-a-side football firm Goals Soccer Centres has teamed up with the owners of Manchester City Football Club to mount an offensive on the US market.

The firm said it has struck a 50:50 joint venture with City Football Group (CFG), which will stump up 16 million US dollars (£12 million) to finance the launch of new sites across America.

The deal came as Goals called time on merger talks with rival Powerleague and said group sales had grown by 2% to £17.3 million for the half year.

Chairman Nick Basing said the joint venture will "transform the prospects" of the US business.

He said: "This is a transformational agreement for our company to grow and strengthen the North American business.

"We are delighted to be partnered with a global leader in soccer and believe the combination will give us significant competitive advantage at a time when the emerging market is in its infancy."

Goals, which has 48 clubs including two in California, said like-for-like sales rose by 1.4% for the half-year, up from 1.9% fall last year.

As part of the deal, the joint venture can use the Manchester City FC branding for marketing the business, alongside other football clubs owned by CFG such as Melbourne City FC and New York City FC.

CFG chief executive Ferran Soriano said: "We have an ambitious vision in North America to grow the sport, including our JV with Goals, ownership of New York City FC in MLS and many other initiatives.

"This initiative shows City Football Group's continuing commitment to soccer in North America. This partnership with an excellent and recognised operator like Goals gives us the best opportunity to succeed"

Focusing on the joint venture, Canaccord Genuity analyst Nigel Parson said: " We estimate that the combination of funds and cash flow should be sufficient to develop a portfolio of 16 centres over the next seven years (...) capable of generating plus 10 million US dollars of (earnings)."