March 27, 2019 / 9:30 AM / 3 months ago

Mike Ashley-backed Goals Soccer Centres suspends shares

(Reuters) - Five-a-side soccer pitch operator Goals Soccer Centres suspended trading in its shares on Wednesday after saying it had identified “substantial misdeclaration” of value added tax (VAT) as part of an ongoing investigation into historical accounting errors.

The company, in which Sports Direct and Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley has an 18.92 percent stake, said it was yet to establish the final value of misdeclarations but that the value identified so far was about 12 million pounds ($15.82 million).

The AIM-listed company, whose 5-a-side pitches and FA affiliated leagues are a familiar feature of UK towns and cities, said on March 8 it was investigating historical accounting errors whose financial impact was significant.

The company, which replaced KPMG with BDO as its auditor in June last year, has also warned that its 2018 results will be materially below expectations.

The Scotland-based company said it would enter into discussions with the government and that it remained in talks with its lenders over new facilities.

It said it would now adopt new VAT accounting policies which may impact its profitability going forward. However, it said trading in the UK and the United States since March 8 had been strong compared to last year.

Established in 2000, Goals is currently led by ex-Disney executive and former Manchester United Commercial Director Andy Anson and has 50 sites globally.

Reporting by Tanishaa Nadkar and Shashwat Awasthi in Bengaluru

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