Goals Soccer Centres, one of the UK’s largest operators of 5-a-side football grounds, is to be sold to its management team, ending a three-year stint under private equity ownership.
Sky News understands that Inflexion Private Equity, which bought the business in 2019, has reached a deal to offload the business which could be announced within days.
The price at which Inflexion is selling Goals was unclear on Sunday, although Sky News reported when preparing for the sale process last November that it could be in the region of £200million.
Goals was forced to withdraw from the London Stock Exchange in 2019 amid acrimony sparked by apparent fraud.
At the time, it counted Mike Ashley, the founder of Sports Direct, among its major shareholders, with the sportswear mogul at one point considering a bid for the company.
Inflexion teamed up with Barry and Ian McDermott, the founders of Goals, to buy the company through a pre-pack administration in late 2019.
Much of the following period saw trade impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, but sales are believed to have recovered strongly as consumers seek to take advantage of post-lockdown freedoms.
Goals operates over 450 pitches in 42 centers across the UK, with a staff of over 700.
It competes with Power League, another private operator.
Goals’ red card from the London Stock Exchange came after he began to investigate what he described as “inappropriate behavior by a small number of individuals historically within the company. “.
Accountancy firm BDO has produced a report alleging the former chief executive and chief financial officer of Goals colluded to produce fictitious invoices.
Keith Rogers, former chief executive of Goals and architect of its IPO, had denied any wrongdoing, while Bill Gow, the former chief financial officer, had not commented on the allegations.
The current status of any ongoing investigation into the directors’ conduct is unclear.
Inflection declined to comment this weekend.