August 2, 2019 / 7:29 AM / 4 months ago

Goals Soccer to de-list as accounts probe finds "improper behaviour"

(Reuters) - Five-a-side football pitch operator Goals Soccer Centres Plc will delist its shares from London’s AIM market next month after an investigation into accounting issues uncovered improper behaviour going back almost a decade and made it impossible to file last year’s accounts on time.

The company, in which retail tycoon Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct holds a near 19% stake, said its audit for full-year 2018 had been suspended and that its shares would stop trading on the index from Sept. 30.

Goals shares have been suspended since March after it identified “substantial misdeclaration” of value added tax (VAT) and it said on Friday that it was clear that improper behaviour over accounts “involved a number of individuals for a period since at least 2010”.

The company, a familiar part of local footballing infrastructure in dozens of British towns and cities, hired audit firm Deloitte in June to help assess options as it conducted discussions with UK tax authorities.

It said on Friday there had been no developments in talks with HMRC to resolve the tax errors.

Goals shares had fallen more than 62% this year before trading in them was suspended, and it has also been involved in a row with Sports Direct over the shareholder’s demand for a “cradle to grave” report into the company’s finances.

It added that its existing debt facilities would be in place after their initial July 31 review date, though it warned that one of its covenant thresholds had been exceeded.

Reporting by Shashwat Awasthi in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D'Silva

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