Goals Soccer Centres Shareholders Reject Canadian Takeover Bid

Bid For Goals Soccer Centres Gets The Red Card

A bid to take over Goals Soccer Centres, which runs more than 40 five-a-side football centres in the United Kingdom, has seen rejected by shareholders.

The company had agreed in principle to the 144p a share takeover by a Canadian Pension Fund - the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan - but when it was put to a vote, the votes in favour came to just 71.4% - 3.6% shy of being passed.

Sir Rodney Walker, non-executive chairman of Goals, said in a statement: "Following the result of today's court meeting, the non-executive directors and executive management will continue to focus on delivering the group's strategy of delivering a best-in-class 5-a-side football experience to customers in the UK and beyond."

It is believed those who voted against the takeover regarded the offer price as too low - but the value of Goals had been challenged after Powerleague's owner Patron Capital confirmed it would not make an offer for its rival earlier this month.

Goals confirmed this afternoon it was not in talks with any other potential takeover partners.

Matt King, head of research for leisure at Mintel, said the leisure sector had remained fairly resilient during the recession, and Goals' results in particular had been doing well.

"There's been a long term leisure trend towards increased participation - although this has been slightly tempered by the recession," he told The Huffington Post UK.

King also noted that in a time-poor society, the need for shorter bursts of activity had seen a surge for five-a-side football over the more traditional 11-a-side game. Indeed Football Association statistics have supported the theory that the shift towards five-a-side becoming more popular was set to continue.

But Craig Melling, investment manager at stockbroker Redmayne Bentley, said he was surprised the offer of 144p was rejected, given some of the troubles Goals had faced recently.

"Theirs is an easy story to buy into, but I wasn't keen because (the business) is dependent on discretionary spend, which is under pressure at the moment," he said.

"If you've been recently you'll see the bars are empty too, which is a loss."

The poor weather will also have affected profits, Melling predicted, since the outdoor pitches are exposed to the elements.

It appears that Goals will now go back to running business as usual, though there is the possibility of a counter offer being made by the OTTP.

At the time of going to press, the share price for Goals had dropped to 116p, having started the day at 143p. At its lowest, it reached 110p, shortly after the failed vote took place.


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