Goals Soccer Centres, the Scottish five-a-side firm which Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley has just significantly upped his stake in, will this week update investors on early progress with its accelerated push into the US market under a new tie-up with Manchester City’s owner.
The East Kilbride company struck a deal with City Football Group (CFG) in July to help speed up expansion in the US, where it has two existing sites and a number in the pipeline.
GFG is providing $16 million (£12m) to finance new site openings and Goals is expected to provide more detail on the process of identifying sites and timescales. New openings are likely to initially be in Los Angeles where Goals’ existing pitches are, followed by Texas.
The focus on the strengthened US push for the firm was seen as one of the reasons for merger talks with fellow Scottish operator Powerleague ending earlier this year. But comments that discussions with Powerleague have “currently been concluded” is seen as leaving the door open for a merger in the future. The possibility of corporate action involving Goals was reignited by Ashley’s Sports Direct International nearly tripling its stake in Goals in recent weeks.
Sports Direct now holds a near-15 per cent stake, up from 4.8 per cent previously, and is the second largest shareholder in the Aim-quoted, five-a-side-football group after Harwood Capital, which owns 18.6 per cent.
Talks between Goals and Paisley-based Powerleague, owned by private equity firm Patron Capital, were first revealed in April.