Investors vote down takeover bid for Goals

THE proposed takeover of five-a-side football operator Goals Soccer Centres was shown the red card yesterday after shareholders failed to back the £73.1m bid.

Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, which is one of the world’s biggest pension funds and owns lottery operator Camelot, had won the support of the directors of East Kilbride-based Goals.

But independent shareholders of Goals, which operates 44 sites, including sites in Bradford, Hull, Leeds and Sheffield, rejected the plan at a meeting yesterday, with 71.4 per cent of votes going for the deal, below the 75 per cent that was needed for it to be passed.

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The result triggered a 20 per cent fall in its share price yesterday as the group said it was not in talks with any other potential buyers. Earlier this month, Patron Capital Partners, which owns a controlling stake in Goals rival Powerleague, pulled out of the race to buy the firm.

Chairman Sir Rodney Walker said the group would now focus on “delivering a best-in-class five-a-side football experience in the UK and beyond”.

Ontario Teachers, already home to a number of leading Canadian sports assets such as the Toronto FC Major League Soccer team, had described its 144p-a-share bid for Goals as a “win-win for investors”. It had planned to plough £40m into the company over the next five years by adding 25 sites to Goals’ estate and wanted to expand Goals overseas, building on the one site currently owned in the US.

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