Fury over statement

Sports Direct accuses Goals board of ‘skulduggery’ in bid row

Mike Ashley

Mike Ashley: lost investment in Goals

Sports Direct has accused the board of Goals Soccer Centres of “skulduggery” and “incompetence” and repeated its call for a full inquiry into the company after withdrawing its interest in a takeover.

In a fierce rebuke to the board of the East Kilbride five-a-side football pitch operator, the retailer said it rejected Goals’ claims to have provided all the information it requested.

Mike Ashley-controlled Sports Direct, which was the largest shareholder in Goals, announced late on Monday that it would not pursue a 5–per-share offer because the Goals board had not co-operated.

Goals, which is investigating an accounting scandal, responded by saying it had “provided Sports Direct with all of the information they have requested as and when it became available. The board has not frustrated in any way Sports Direct from making an offer for the business”.

Sports Direct said today it believes that, contrary to these reports, Goals and its board did not truly engage with an offer process; access and co-operation was limited and fitful.

“In particular, key information including access to forensic accounting reports as well as the ability to engage with the main lender was provided to Sports Direct extremely late in the process and Goals’ board was not then willing – or able – to agree to an extension of time for consideration of the potential offer.

“From the beginning, the attitude of the Goals board made no sense,

– Sports Direct statement

“Given the issues within the Goals business, Sports Direct believes that it would be convenient for those concerned if Goals, and its corporate history, disappeared.

“From the beginning, the attitude of the Goals board made no sense, including proclamations to senior management of Sports Direct that the issues impacting on, and leading to the catastrophic failure of, the business had only been perpetuated by one person.”

Sports Direct said that it thought the Goals board members it was dealing with “to be intelligent”, adding that “anyone with any common sense could tell it could not be only the result of one person’s behaviour.”


Goals: accounting inquiry

The retailer added: “This leads Sports Direct to conclude that the behaviour of the Goals board, and its apparent failure to spot and deal with the issues, amounts to incredible incompetence and ignorance, wilful or otherwise, at the very least and potentially far worse”

It said all relevant matters should be fully investigated by both the AIM Regulators and an independently appointed third party.

“Yet again, the independent shareholders of a UK listed company get wiped out through the skulduggery of others; as these constant corporate failures show, the current rules and regulations do not do enough to protect independent shareholders or to prevent fiscal irresponsibility.”

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