Problems mounting

Ashley hit as Goals delists over deepening accounting scandal

Mike Ashley Sky vid

Mike Ashley: big shareholder

Shareholders in Goals Soccer Centres, including retail tycoon Mike Ashley, are facing a new crisis after the firm announced it is cancelling its stock market listing over an escalating accounting scandal.

The East Kilbride-based company told the Stock Exchange this morning that detailed investigations have uncovered “improper behaviour” within the company involving a number of individuals “since at least 2010”.

Mr Ashley owns a near-19% stake in Goals through his majority shareholding in Sports Direct and has demanded wholesale change to the Goals board.

In a statement on the latest setback, Goals said: “Due to these initial findings, there is material uncertainty in relation to the historic financial statements published by the company. Work on the company’s full-year 2018 audit has therefore been suspended until further clarification on the historic financial statements has been obtained.”

The company, which operates 45 outdoor football pitches in the UK, said that it no longer expects the ordinary shares in the company to resume trading. The listing on AIM is therefore expected to cease and cancellation will be effective from 30 September.

The company confirmed that there have been no material developments in the ongoing dialogue with HMRC in establishing a timetable for resolving any mis-declaration of VAT and in establishing a final value of money owed.

It said discussions with the debt providers remain positive and they have confirmed that the existing debt facilities will remain in place.

Year-to-date sales across the sites in the UK on a gross like-for-like basis are up 11.5%.  The company’s US gross like-for-like sales are up 14.5%.

The company said it will make further updates as appropriate and when more information is available.

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