MIKE Ashley’s Sports Direct has withdrawn its interest in taking over Goals Soccer Centres, writes Scott Wright.

The biggest shareholder in Goals with a near-19 per cent shareholding took aim at the board of the struggling 5-a-side football pitch operator as it declared it does not intend to make an offer for the East Kilbride-based company.

Sports Direct said it had received “only limited and fitful access and cooperation from the board of Goals” to support its possible bid, adding that it was “was unable to complete the necessary due diligence to progress the offer.”

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The retailer also criticised the Goals board for continuing to pursue an AMA (accelerated mergers and acquisitions) process. It said the process will, if successful, “result in significant dilution in value for those shareholders who do not participate in the AMA process and be to the detriment of certain creditors.”

Goals’ listing on the Aim market was cancelled on September 30 amid a continuing probe into the mis-declaration of VAT and historic accounting policies at the firm, which has delayed the publication of its results for 2018.

The Goals’ board dismissed the initial takeover approach by Sports Direct on September 23 as “highly caveated”. The approach valued the business at nearly £4m.