Belfast Telegraph

Sports Direct proposes £3.8m takeover for troubled Goals Soccer Centres

Sports Direct already holds a 19% stake in scandal-hit Goals Soccer Centres.

Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct has revealed a £3.8 million takeover approach for troubled Goals Soccer Centres ahead of the five-a-side football pitch firm’s shares delisting next week (Goals)
Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct has revealed a £3.8 million takeover approach for troubled Goals Soccer Centres ahead of the five-a-side football pitch firm’s shares delisting next week (Goals)

By Holly Williams, PA Deputy City Editor

Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct has revealed a £3.8 million takeover approach for troubled Goals Soccer Centres ahead of the five-a-side football pitch firm’s shares delisting next week.

Sports Direct said it put forward a 5p-a-share approach on September 5 for Goals, in which it already holds an 18.9% stake.

It comes after shares in Goals were suspended in March amid a major accounting scandal, with the firm under investigation for an alleged £12 million VAT fraud.

Sports Direct is strongly of the view that the Goals shareholders deserve an opportunity to consider the possible offer. Sports Direct

The group has already admitted it will not have full-year accounts signed off by the end of September, meaning it will de-list from the stock market on September 30.

It put itself up for sale last month, with Sports Direct seen at the time as a front-runner.

But Sports Direct said if the shares de-listing goes ahead as planned, it will deprive shareholders of the ability to vote on the sale process.

Sports Direct said: “Due to Goals’ well-publicised difficulties, the board of Goals is not committed to maintaining Goals’ trading facility.

“Instead, it seems only interested in pursuing the AMA Process (sale process) whilst, at the same time through the loss of the trading facility, depriving Goals’ shareholders of the ability to vote on it.

“Sports Direct is strongly of the view that the Goals shareholders deserve an opportunity to consider the possible offer.”

Sports Direct has urged Goals to enter talks and provide information requested for due diligence, which it claimed it has so far failed to do.

Goals said the approach from Sports Direct was “preliminary and highly caveated”.

It insisted it was holding talks with Sports Direct over the proposal, but stressed there was “no certainty that any firm offer will be made”.

Goals also stressed it “remains committed to looking after the interests of all stakeholders”.

Sports Direct must now make a firm offer or walk away by 5pm on October 21 under City takeover rules.

The accounting issues at Goals centre around its alleged avoidance of VAT payments to HM Revenue and Customs.

Earlier this month, Goals confirmed that its former chief executive Keith Rogers and finance chief Bill Gow are under investigation over historic financial irregularities.

Mr Rogers and Mr Gow’s behaviour while at Goals is part of an investigation and reports suggest the Financial Conduct Authority is also looking into the issue.

According to reports, forensic accountants at BDO allege that Mr Gow emailed Mr Rogers asking him to “work your usual magic” to create fake invoices.

Allegations were 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.

PA

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