Mike Ashley threatens boardroom coup in Goals Soccer Centres spat

Mike Ashley has threatened directors of Goals Soccer Centres with a boardroom coup after they rebuffed his efforts to hire an investigator of his choice.

The tycoon’s company, Sports Direct, said in a statement that it was planning to vote against the reappointment of Goals’ entire board at its annual general meeting (AGM) next week as a result of “perceived lack of transparency” over a recent accounting blunder and the resulting “loss of confidence”.

Mr Ashley had demanded that independent advisers at Kroll be appointed to look into the accounting errors, which are estimated to be worth £12 million.

But Goals said on Wednesday that it was continuing talks with HMRC over the blunder and had already engaged “forensic accountants” over the issue.

Sports Direct, which owns an 18.9% stake in Goals, responded by claiming that the appointed advisers are not independent, being a division of the company’s auditors.

It also said that, since one major shareholder sits on the board, they will have access to information which is unknown to other investors.

Sports Direct said it would make any Kroll report available for all shareholders.

The bust-up comes just a few months after a showdown between Sports Direct and the board of Debenhams, as the department store turned down several offers from Mr Ashley for rescue funds and his attempts to become chief executive.

The scrap resulted in the ousting of then-chairman Ian Cheshire and former CEO Sergio Bucher, when Sports Direct voted against their reappointment at an AGM.

Goals confirmed earlier this week that it has hired advisory firm Deloitte to assess future options, which could see a sale of the listed firm.

Mr Ashley is tipped to be a potential bidder to buy the company outright, adding to his shopping spree which has recently included House of Fraser, Evans Cycles and an ongoing bid for Game Digital.

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