THE business and assets of crisis-hit Goals Soccer Centres have been acquired in a pre-pack administration deal, safeguarding 750 jobs.

But the sale has left shareholders and the company’s lender

nursing heavy losses.

The deal, understood to be worth around £27 million, returns the business to the McDermott family, who founded Goals in 1990 and sold it a decade later.

It comes as investigations into the mis-declaration of VAT and other accounting issues at Goals Soccer Centres continue.

Investigations carried out by forensic auditors at BDO and the company’s new interim chief financial officer, Mike McGill, into historical accounts have led its board to conclude that profits may have been overstated by as much as £40m since 2009.

Goals Soccer Centres said in a statement that the auditors claim to have found evidence of the

creation of false fixed assets, false revenues and fake invoices. They also allege wrongful payment of cheques to individuals associated with the company, in 2014.

The original company also warned yesterday that the amount owed to Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs in mis-declared VAT could now be “very significantly” more than the £13.2m initially estimated, as a result of other issues uncovered as part of the investigation.

Goals said in August that actions undertaken by former directors Keith Rogers and Bill Gow while employees and directors of the company formed part of the investigations into the mis-statement of historic financial statements. It said then that no conclusions had been reached.

The reports into the accounting irregularities have now been handed to regulatory authorities and law enforcement agencies.

Mr Gow was unavailable for comment yesterday evening.

Mr Rogers told the Financial Times in August: “I categorically deny that I was engaged in (or

had knowledge of) any “alleged fraud” in the preparation of the Goals Soccer Centre Financial Statements.”

The Goals Soccer Centres board added yesterday that it was told in August that the company was “technically insolvent”, having been in breach of banking covenants for some months. Its bank debt of around £30m is owed to Bank of Scotland, but the company admitted that “funds generated through the sale do not fully compensate even the lenders to the company.”

It also said it is “very unlikely that shareholders of Goals will receive any value for their shares.”

Goals said in a statement: “This outcome is a matter of deep regret for the board, but as previously outlined the nature of the inappropriate accounting (going back to at least 2009) and the VAT-related issues means the business has been significantly less profitable than previously believed.”

Barry and Ian McDermott, who acquired the Goals business from administrators at Deloitte, were backed in the deal by Inflexion Private Equity, and the McDermott family.

“We’re delighted to be returning to the business, started in

partnership with our father Ian snr. over 30 years ago,” Barry and McDermott said in a statement.

“The business has grown across the UK and into the USA, an

exciting market where there’s potential for significant growth. We’re excited to be back at the helm of Goals, and with our investment partners Inflexion Private Equity, look forward to growth on the back of the popularity of 5-a-side football, especially in the US, where Goals is already in a joint venture with City Football Group.”

Goals has 45 centres in the UK and four in the US.