Ex-CFO of Goals Soccer Centres questioned over accounting

AIM-listed five-a-side football operator Goals Soccer Centres has revealed it is questioning its  former chief financial officer, as well as its  founder and  former chief executive, as part of investigations into the ‘significant’ accounting errors discovered earlier this year

At the beginning of August, Goals Soccer Centres said its detailed investigatory work into the historic accounting policies and practices in the recognition of revenue and the preparation of financial statements had found evidence of ‘improper behaviour within the company’. This was said to involve ‘a number of individuals for a period since at least 2010’.

Keith Gow co-founded Goals and led its 2004 float before stepping down as CEO in 2017. 

Bill Rogers was CFO until early February, when Martin Johnson was named as interim CFO. Johnson has now been replaced by Mike McGill, who joins as interim CFO having worked with companies including Baxters Food Group, McDonald Hotels and the Murray Group.

In its latest update, Goals said: ‘Following press speculation, the company can confirm that actions undertaken by Mr Gow and Mr Rogers while employees and directors of the company form part of the current investigations of the company into the mis-statement of historic financial statements.

‘The company can confirm no finalised conclusions have yet been reached, although as stated in the 2 August 2019 announcement by the company it is clear inappropriate actions have taken place.

‘Once the company has concluded its findings the directors, alongside its advisors, will take appropriate action and liaise with the appropriate authorities.’

Among the areas under the microscope is  around £12m of misdeclared VAT.

Goals has already said it plans to delist from AIM, as the investigation into the historical accounting problems has resulted in severe delays to its publication of its financial results, which are due on 30 September.

Goals has named BDO as its auditor, replacing KPMG.  It has asked the forensic division of BDO to analyse historical accounting errors and policies.  In addition, the company has engaged RSM Tenon and a specialist VAT consultant to assist it in its ongoing discussions with HMRC. More recently, it has engaged Deloitte to work alongside its advisors and its lenders in assessing its future corporate options.

Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct company has a 19% stake in Goals.  The retailer has been critical of the company’s decisions on engaging advisers, arguing that it should appoint Kroll as its forensic investigator, with Goals issuing a statement saying this was not necessary.

In June, Goals CEO Andy Anson tendered his resignation as he had decided to take the role of CEO at the British Olympic Association where he is already a board member. According to a regulatory statement, he is to remain with Goals for the next six months to assist in resolving the accounting and VAT issues.

Pat Sweet | 12-08-2019

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