Belfast Telegraph

Goals Soccer Centres former boss and finance chief under investigation

Keith Rogers and Bill Gow are under scrutiny for their roles in an accounting scandal that left a £12m unpaid bill to HMRC.

Goals has confirmed actions by its former CFO and CEO are under investigation (Goals/PA)
Goals has confirmed actions by its former CFO and CEO are under investigation (Goals/PA)

By Simon Neville, PA City Editor

Struggling five-a-side football pitch operator Goals Soccer Centres has confirmed its former chief executive and finance chief are under investigation over historic financial irregularities.

The business is reeling from the uncovering of “improper behaviour” by senior staff stretching back nine years, leaving it with a £12 million bill to HM Revenue & Customs.

On Monday bosses said Keith Rogers and Bill Gow’s behaviour whilst at Goals is part of an investigation which has already seen shares suspended and the company on the verge of being kicked off the stock exchange.

Goals Soccer Centres’ former boss Keith Rogers is under investigation for his role in the accounting scandal (Goals/PA)

Goals said: “The company can confirm that actions undertaken by Mr Gow and Mr Rogers while employees and directors of the company form part of the current investigations of the company into the mis-statement of historic financial statements.

“The company can confirm no finalised conclusions have yet been reached, although as stated in the August 2 2019 announcement by the company it is clear inappropriate actions have taken place.

“Once the company has concluded its findings the directors, alongside its advisers, will take appropriate action and liaise with the appropriate authorities.”

The statement from the company, which is 19% owned by Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct, came as a report in the Sunday Times newspaper said the Financial Conduct Authority is also investigating.

It said a report by forensic accountants at BDO alleges Mr Gow emailed Mr Rogers asking him to “work your usual magic” to create fake invoices.

Allegations are also made that Mr Gow deleted old emails to “purge” records and the pair were manipulating numbers to avoid VAT payments and breaching banking rules with its lender Bank of Scotland.

After revealing the discovery of “improper behaviour” and “fictitious documents”, Goals said it would not be able to file its 2018 accounts by the September 30 deadline, meaning it will be delisted from the stock market and investors will be wiped out.

KPMG, the company’s previous auditor, could face a legal challenge from the board and shareholders for failing to spot the issues.

Goals was founded in 2000 following a management buyout by Mr Rogers and Mr Gow.

Mr Rogers left Goals in 2017 and Mr Gow quit for teacake maker Tunnock’s, which was founded by his wife’s family.

The FCA declined to comment. Mr Rogers and Mr Gow could not be immediately reached for comment.