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UPDATE: Sports Direct insists on hiring investigator to probe Goals Soccer Centres

Friday, 21st June 2019
Sports Direct has insisted that small football pitch operator Goals Soccer Centres allow it to appoint an independent investigator to peruse its books.

The sportswear retailer, which owns 19% of Goals, also said that it would vote against the election of the company's directors at its annual general meeting later this month.

Sports Direct had recently written to the board of Goals requesting the appointment of Kroll after Goals admitted to accounting irregularities.

Goals, however, last week rejected the request, claiming that it had already appointed third parties to conduct an independent probe.

'It is Sports Direct's understanding that the company has not appointed independent advisers to assist Goals in examining its historical treatment of VAT as well as its ongoing discussions with HMRC,' Sports Direct said.

'Sports Direct understands that these advisers are a division of the company's auditors.'

Sports Direct said it would cover all associated costs of its own separate investigation.

Goals responded to Sports Direct's latest statement by saying that it had employed 'a full and extensive professional advisory team to advise the board'.

These included auditors BDO, who were appointed on 26 June, RSM Tenon and a specialist VAT consultant.

Goals said it had also engaged Deloitte to work alongside its advisers and its lenders in assessing its future corporate options.

'The board notes the desire of Sport Direct to appoint Kroll,' Goals said.

'The board continues to believe this is not appropriate and not in shareholder's best interests given, in particular, that it would be disruptive to the ongoing investigations and would hinder not only the timely resolution of the process but also the completion of the company's audit for the financial year ending 31 December 2018.'

'The company is committed to making announcements for all shareholders in due course as the results of its investigations become known.'

Sports Direct claimed that one of Goals' significant shareholders was also a member of the company's board and would have access to information that other shareholders did not.

'It is the company's position that they are 100% sure that the matters under investigation were carried out by one individual,' Sports Direct said.

'The board of Goals taking this position leads Sports Direct to believe it is essential that Kroll's appointment is made immediately.'

Goals said that its investigations were 'wide-ranging' and covered the actions and decisions of the company over an extended period of time.

'The Company notes the voting intention of Sports Direct in relation to the company's upcoming AGM,' it added.

'The board respects the views of all its shareholders and will release the voting results of the meeting post the meeting on 28 June 2019.

At 1:11pm:

(LON:SPD) Sports Direct International PLC share price was -4.4p at 281.4p

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