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What does Goals Soccer accounting scandal mean for Ipswich site?

PUBLISHED: 10:50 30 August 2019 | UPDATED: 10:50 30 August 2019

Goals Soccer Centres is up for sale after a major accounting scandal was revealed. Photo: Lucy Taylor.

Goals Soccer Centres is up for sale after a major accounting scandal was revealed. Photo: Lucy Taylor.

Five-a-side football pitch operators Goals Soccer Centres has put itself up for sale in the wake of a major accounting scandal.

Goals Soccer Centres is up for sale after a major accounting scandal was revealed. Photo: Phil Morley.Goals Soccer Centres is up for sale after a major accounting scandal was revealed. Photo: Phil Morley.

The firm is under investigation for a £12m VAT accounting fraud and has appointed Deloitte to find a buyer.

As things stand Sport Direct owner Mike Ashley is seen as the favourite to take over the firm, having already bought up a 19% stake in the business.

However, the billionaire will need a strong stomach to undertake the challenge, as Goals has already admitted it will not have full-year accounts signed off by the end of September, meaning it will de-list from the stock market.

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Shares were suspended in March after bosses uncovered the fraud, which involved avoiding VAT payments to HM Revenue and Customs.

Goals Soccer Centres is up for sale after a major accounting scandal was revealed. Photo: Phil Morley.Goals Soccer Centres is up for sale after a major accounting scandal was revealed. Photo: Phil Morley.

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The company employs around 700 people and operates 45 centres across the UK, including a location at Suffolk New College, in Ipswich.

Deloitte is now set to send out sales documents to interested parties, and is expected to use revenues data and booking information to show it remains a viable business.

As it stands there is no suggestion the firm will be looking to close centres rather it is putting its efforts into finding a buyer as quickly as possible.

Goals Soccer Centres is up for sale after a major accounting scandal was revealed. Photo: Phil Morley.Goals Soccer Centres is up for sale after a major accounting scandal was revealed. Photo: Phil Morley.

Earlier this month, the company confirmed that its former chief executive and finance chief are under investigation over historic financial irregularities.

Keith Rogers and Bill Gow's behaviour while at Goals is part of an investigation and reports suggest the Financial Conduct Authority is also looking into the issue.

According to reports, forensic accountants at BDO allege that Mr Gow emailed Mr Rogers asking him to "work your usual magic" to create fake invoices.

Allegations were also made that Mr Gow deleted old emails to "purge" records and the pair were manipulating numbers to avoid VAT payments and breaching banking rules with its lender, Bank of Scotland.

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