Troubled Goals Soccer bought by founder’s family

Troubled East Kilbride-based Goals Soccer Centres plc has been bought in a prepack administration by a new entity backed by the family of company’s original founder.

The new company is called Northwind 5s Limited, which is backed by Inflexion Private Equity and Soccerworld.

Ian and Barry McDermott, the sons of the original founder Ian McDermott who sold the business in 2000, have also invested via Inflexion.

They said: “We are delighted to be returning to the business we founded over 30 years ago.

“The business has grown substantially over the years with the market continuing to evolve and develop.

“We look forward to partnering with Inflexion as we grow the company further and continue to provide first-class football facilities to a loyal customer base.”

Shares of Goals were recently delisted after an investigation into its accounting uncovered “improper behaviour” going back almost a decade.

Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct International had been Goals’ largest shareholder with a roughly 19% stake.

Earlier this month, Sports Direct International said it did not, after all, intend to make an offer for Goals, citing insufficient cooperation from the five-a-side football pitch operator’s board. 

Sports Direct had made a 5p-a-share takeover approach for Goals which had then valued the company’s equity at about £3.76 million.

In a stock exchange statement on Thursday, Goals said: “It is very unlikely that shareholders of Goals will receive any value for their shares.

“This outcome is a matter of deep regret for the board, but as previously outlined the nature of the inappropriate accounting (going back to at least 2009) and the VAT-related issues means the business has been significantly less profitable than previously believed.”

Goals added: “The transaction will be effected through a pre-pack administration where administrators, Deloitte LLP, will have been appointed and simultaneously the business and assets of the company acquired.

“Through this transaction the livelihoods of the company’s 750 staff will have been secured …

“Goals bank debt is approximately £30 million, provided by lenders Bank of Scotland.  

“The company has been in breach of key banking covenants for some months, as previously disclosed.

“The board of Goals has therefore been working closely with both its lenders, and its lawyers, BDB Pitmans, throughout this time.

“The board was given clear advice in August 2019 that the business appeared to be technically insolvent and that on-going trading was wholly reliant on the support of the Bank of Scotland.

“As such, the board was advised that “creditors’ interest” duties had arisen.

“The board was therefore required to consider the interests of creditors as well as those of the company.

“The combination of all of these issues means that closing the 2018 books has been complicated by the fact that no historic profit and loss account and balance sheet numbers can be trusted.

“The board therefore had no choice but to delist the shares, as current year accounts could not be presented in the allotted timescale …

“The board received a preliminary, but highly caveated offer, for the shares of the company from Sports Direct International Plc.

“The board, advised by Canaccord Genuity and assisted by BDB Pitmans LLP, its lawyers, co-operated fully with Sports Direct International Plc and provided them, on a timely basis, with access to the board members, key personnel, the bank, all financial information (including financial projections) and other relevant information to permit them to formulate an offer as  prescribed by the Takeover Code.

“Despite this full co-operation and the provision of all relevant information to Sports Direct International Plc, regretfully no offer was made …”