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Goals Soccer: Impact of tax misdeclaration could be a lot worse

Edmund Heaphy
·Finance and news reporter
Man playing football
The accounting scandal at Goals Soccer Centres could be a lot worse, the company said on Monday,. Photo: Getty

Goals Soccer Centres (GOAL.L) said on Monday that under-declaration of tax at the company could be “materially higher” than the £12m it previously announced.

In March, the five-a-side operator said it had uncovered “substantial” errors in how it declared VAT to HM Revenue and Customs in accounts dating back to 2010. In August, it blamed the “improper behaviour” of individuals within the company.

Former CEO Keith Rogers and former finance officer Bill Gow are both being investigated in relation to the discovery.

In a regulatory filing on Monday, the company said it continued to work with its advisors in relation to “resolving” the issue, but suggested that the bill could end up being a lot higher than £12m.

Again pointing to the “improper behaviour on the part of a small number of individuals,” Goals said it had not been able to conclude its efforts to determine the size of the misdeclaration.

“Further, the actual liability may be materially higher than that previously announced dependent on the approach and working assumptions that could be adopted by HMRC in assessing the misdeclaration,” it said.

READ MORE: Sports Direct considers £3.6m bid for stricken five-a-side operator

Noting that it had not even established a “definitive timetable” for figuring out how big the VAT bill could end up being, Goals said that work on the issue “requires significant resource and time due to the nature, quantum and time period covered by the accounting issues identified.”

The company will have to re-state its 2016, 2017, and 2018 balance sheets. Determination of the final figure will require agreement from HMRC or a tribunal, Goals said.

Shares in the company, which operates 50 outdoor football centres in the UK and California, were suspended in March and the business was put up for sale last month.

The company said in August that it would be unable to publish its 2018 results by 30 September, meaning that it will be delisted from the London Stock Exchange later on Monday.

Meanwhile, Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct (SPD.L) said last week that it was considering a bid for Goals.

Sports Direct, which already owns a major chunk of Goals, approached the company suggesting a 5p-a-share bid, which would value Goals at £3.6m.

That bid is far below what Goals was worth when shares were suspended in March. Its share price then valued the business at just over £20m.

Goals, which said in August that it was inviting takeover offers, called the bid a “preliminary and highly caveated possible cash offer.”

Neither the sales process nor the potential bid would be affected by its delisting from the London Stock Exchange, the company said.