Sports Direct has condemned Goals Soccer Centres, the Scottish five-a-side football pitch operator, accusing its management of wiping out shareholders through “skulduggery”.
Mike Ashley’s retail business hit out at the East Kilbride-based group, just days after confirming he had no intention to buy the business.
The high street tycoon said Goals and its board “did not truly engage” with the offer process, describing their co-operation as “limited and fitful”.
Sports Direct, which is Goals’ largest single shareholder, had been mulling a £4 million swoop for the operator of about 50 five-a-side sites in the UK and the US.
The retail behemoth denied reports that Goals said it provided Sports Direct with all the information needed.
In its latest statement, Sports Direct said: “From the beginning, the attitude of the Goals board made no sense, including proclamations to senior management of Sports Direct that the issues impacting on, and leading to the catastrophic failure of, the business had only been perpetuated by one person.
“Yet again, the independent shareholders of a UK-listed company get wiped out through the skulduggery of others.
“As these constant corporate failures show, the current rules and regulations do not do enough to protect independent shareholders or to prevent fiscal irresponsibility.”
Sports Direct described the behaviour of Goals’ board as “incredible incompetence and ignorance, wilful or otherwise, at the very least and potentially far worse”.
The Scottish firm hit trouble in March when its shares were suspended after it revealed £12m of accounting errors. The company admitted “improper behaviour” and was delisted from the Alternative Investment Market in September.
Sports Direct has had its own share of troubles in recent months, such as ongoing difficulty in securing an auditor and a last-minute tax bill from Belgian authorities which delayed its most recent set of results.
Ashley considered adding Goals to his list of recent acquisitions which includes Evans Cycles, Jack Wills and Sofa.com.