Goals Soccer Centres, the embattled Scottish five-a-side football operator, suffered a major blow today as chief executive Andy Anson quit to head up the British Olympic Association.
The East Kilbribe-based group, which is one of the biggest firms of its kind running 50 sites in the UK and US, said that Anson was committed to remain with the firm for the next six months to “assist in resolving its accounting and VAT issues”.
In March, Goals revealed that it had uncovered “substantial” VAT accounting errors estimated so far at some £12 million.
It said its board had concluded that the VAT misdeclaration issues dated back several years, although the final value of the error is still being established. The group, whose shares were suspended on London’s junior Alternative Investment Market (Aim), also warned that new VAT accounting policies it plans to adopt are likely to have an impact on its future earnings.
Anson is to take up the role of chief executive at the British Olympic Association where he is already a board member.
Goals chairman Michael Bolingbroke said: “Whilst Andy’s decision is disappointing, particularly at this challenging time for the company, the board respects Andy’s decision to take a role that is a once in a lifetime opportunity for him.
“We are very grateful for all that he has done for Goals and are pleased that he will continue to fully support the company to secure the best outcome in the discussions with our auditors and HMRC.”
Earlier in March, the firm warned that its profits would be “materially below expectations” following the discovery of the accounting errors.
The group, in which Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct business empire owns a significant stake, noted that while the “accounting adjustments” were of a non-cash nature, it means Goals is in breach of one of its banking covenants with Bank of Scotland.
“We are in discussions with the bank with a view to agreeing re-negotiated facilities, ” it added at the time.
In January, Goals said that steps to improve food and drink sales in centres and its children’s birthday party offering had led to “materially higher” costs in 2018. That resulted in a £300,000 fall in group profits in the second half. Labour costs also increased by £300,000 and other costs increased by £200,000.
The firm said it expected investments to improve its arenas to continue to deliver increased sales but it also reduced its profit guidance in the current year by £600,000 amid the economic and political uncertainty in the UK.