Five-a-side firm draws bid interest

A leading five-a-side football pitch operator today confirmed it is in the takeover sights of one of Canada’s biggest pension funds.

Goals Soccer Centres, which has 42 UK sites, has received an approach from Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan but added the interest was at an early stage and that there was no certainty an offer will be forthcoming.

Shares in East Kilbride-based Goals jumped 21 per cent, giving it a market value of around £63 million.

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Ontario Teachers is already home to a number of leading Canadian sports assets, including the Toronto FC Major League Soccer team. The business invests the pension assets and administers the pensions of 295,000 active and retired teachers in Ontario.

Goals experienced softer than expected trading over the summer but a marketing campaign under the “Get Back in the Game” banner resulted in a turnaround in fortunes over the remainder of last year.

Across 2011, Goals saw a one per cent rise in like-for-like sales, while underlying profits increased by 11 per cent to £13.8m.

A typical Goals centre has between nine and 14 floodlit courts with pitches made from artificial grass, which is designed to look and feel like real turf, parking for about 100 cars and a licensed bar. Around three-quarters of its revenues came from football bookings during 2011.

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It has added 10 new centres to its estate in the last two years - most recently at Sunderland, Liverpool, Norwich and Hull - but has kicked new openings into touch while it focuses on improving performance and tackling an appeal against the taxman’s change in VAT status for block league bookings.

The company recently received a boost when it entered into a new four year banking agreement with Lloyds Banking Group totalling £56m.

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