Soccer pitch firm in £73m takeover

Soccer ballFive-a-side football pitch operator Goals Soccer Centres is poised for a £73.1 million takeover by one of the world's biggest pension funds.

Announcing a deal with the directors of Goals, Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan, which owns lottery operator Camelot, said it planned to invest £40 million in adding 25 sites to the 44-strong Goals estate over the next five years.
Its move comes after Patron Capital Partners, which owns a controlling stake in Goals rival Powerleague, said this month it was also mulling a bid.

East Kilbride-based Goals, which employs 800 people, agreed a deal with Ontario in the absence of any firm intention from Patron to make an offer.

Powerleague owner Patron said it was "considering its options" and urged Goals shareholders to "take no action".

Goals shares leapt another 9%, having soared in recent weeks on hopes of a takeover battle.

Ontario Teachers, which is already home to a number of leading Canadian sports assets such as the Toronto FC Major League Soccer team, described its 144p-a-share bid for Goals as a "win-win for investors".

It wants to expand Goals across the UK and also overseas, building on the one site currently owned in the US.

Jo Taylor, vice president of Ontario Teachers, said: "We believe that this will be a win-win for investors, employees and the thousands of players who enjoy using Goals' facilities each week.

"Our aim is to cement Goals' position as the UK's premier five-a-side operator and help the business to achieve its full potential."

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