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Sports Direct owner's latest punt

Ashley hoping to score with stake in Goals Soccer Centres

Mike AshleySports Direct boss Mike Ashley has acquired a small stake in the Scottish five-a-side football company Goals Soccer Centres.

Mr Ashley bought 4.94% of the company through his retail chain  and there were hints last night that he may be prepared to increase his interest in the East Kilbride based business which last week issued a profits warning.

Goals shares, which are quoted on Aim, closed 11.5% higher at 145p.

Mr Ashley has taken stakes in a number of listed companies, including Debenhams, using it to negotiate concessions for Sports Direct in its department stores.

He is now using an investment in House of Fraser to gain a foothold for a Lillywhites concession. He has applied similar tactics with Tesco.

Goals has issued three profits warnings this year and some believe it could be vulnerable to a bid from a big leisure group. Mr Ashley, owner of Newcastle United and an 8.9% shareholder in Rangers, is building gyms at some Sports Direct stores.

Shares in Goals slumped 16% in September after it said it had been hit by customers cancelling bookings at its 46 centres and going on holiday instead.

In a statement, it said it expected full-year profit before tax in the range of £9.3m to £9.8m, down from expectations of £10.9m.

Mr Ashley has been criticised for mounting raids in companies merely to turn a profit as he did in 2007 when he made £29m on Adidas shares in just eight weeks.

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