Scotland business

Former Goals Soccer Centres executives under investigation

Floodlit small-sided football pitch Image copyright Getty Images

The former chief executive and finance chief of Goals Soccer Centres are under investigation over historic financial irregularities.

The company said Keith Rogers and Bill Gow's actions while at the struggling five-a-side football pitch operator are part of its probe into Goals' problems.

The East Kilbride-based firm has been hit by an "improper behaviour" crisis in its accounts.

Mr Rodgers has previously denied having knowledge of any alleged fraud.

Mr Gow could not be reached for comment.

Goals, which is which is part-owned by Mike Ashley, owes £12m to HMRC.

Dealing in the firm's shares was suspended in March when Goals revealed it had uncovered "substantial" VAT errors.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Goals had an estimated profit for 2018 of between £4.3m to £4.5m but has still to file its accounts for that period

A spokesman for Goals, which has 45 pitches and 700 staff across the UK, said: "The company can confirm that actions undertaken by Mr Gow and Mr Rogers while employees and directors of the company form part of the current investigations of the company into the mis-statement of historic financial statements.

"The company can confirm no finalised conclusions have yet been reached, although as stated in the 2 August announcement by the company it is clear inappropriate actions have taken place.

"Once the company has concluded its findings, the directors, alongside its advisers, will take appropriate action and liaise with the appropriate authorities."

'Improper behaviour'

The statement from the company, which is 19% owned by Mike Ashley's Sports Direct, came as a report in the Sunday Times newspaper said the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) was also investigating.

It said a report by forensic accountants at BDO alleged that Mr Gow emailed Mr Rogers asking him to "work your usual magic" to create fake invoices.

Image copyright Getty Images

Allegations are 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.

After revealing the discovery of "improper behaviour" and "fictitious documents", Goals said it would not be able to file its 2018 accounts by the 30 September deadline, meaning it will be delisted from the stock market and investors will be wiped out.

Deny wrongdoing

KPMG, the company's previous auditor, could face a legal challenge from the board and shareholders for failing to spot the issues.

Goals was founded in 2000 following a management buyout by Mr Rogers and Mr Gow.

Mr Rogers left Goals in 2017 and Mr Gow quit for teacake-maker Tunnock's, which was founded by his wife's family.

In a statement to the Financial Times on 2 August, Mr Rodgers said: "I categorically deny that I was engaged in (or had knowledge of) any "alleged fraud" in the preparation of the Goals Soccer Centre Financial Statements."

Mr Gow could not be immediately reached for comment.

The FCA declined to comment.