Goals blames accounting scandal on ‘improper behaviour’

Goals Soccer Centres has revealed an accounting scandal, which revolves around £12m in misdeclared VAT, has been caused by “improper behaviour” by individuals at the company dating as far back as 2010.

The five-a-side football operator, which counts retail tycoon Mike Ashley among its shareholders, has released a statement in which it said it “has become very recently evident that there has been improper behaviour within the company”.

Trading in the company has been suspended since March this year and subsequently Goals ordered an in-depth investigation into its accounts by BDO.

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The statement read: “The company regrets to announce that, following ongoing detailed investigatory work into the historic accounting policies and practices used by the company in the recognition of revenue and the preparation of financial statements, it has become very recently evident that there has been improper behaviour within the company.

“This has involved a number of individuals for a period since at least 2010. 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.”

It added that a key criteria for the resumption of trading in the ordinary shares of the company is the completion and publication by 30 September 2019 of the full year 2018 audited financial statements.

Goals said its directors do not believe this timeframe for the audit is “achievable” and, coupled with the recent findings, “no longer expect the ordinary shares in the company to resume trading”.

The listing of the company’s ordinary shares on AIM is therefore expected to cease and cancellation will be effective from 30 September 2019.

It continued: “The company confirms that there have been no material developments in the ongoing dialogue with HMRC in establishing a timetable for resolving any misdeclaration of VAT and in establishing a final value of money owed.

“Discussions with the debt providers remain positive and they have confirmed to the Company that the existing debt facilities will remain in place post the initial 31 July 2019 review date, albeit that one of its covenant thresholds has been exceeded.”

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

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