Back of the net: Five-a-side giants Goals Soccer Centres and Powerleague confirm merger talks

Georgina Varley
Goals Soccer Centres and Powerleague are

Shares in Goals Soccer Centres leapt as the market opened as it confirmed it was in merger talks with five-a-side rival Powerleague.

Shares in the company rose as high as 110p, before settling at 105.5p, 3.4 per cent up, after the company confirmed it could create one of the world's largest five-a-side pitch operators, bringing together under one corporate umbrella around 100 sites located in countries such as Ireland, the Netherlands and the US as well as the UK.

However, in a statement this morning Goals said discussions between the two sides "are but one of the strategic opportunities currently being assessed by the Goals Board".

"Furthermore, at this stage, no commercial or financial terms have been agreed and no decision on any course of action has been made by the Board. There is therefore no certainty that any transaction will proceed."

Whether their significant combined presence in the UK will trigger any competition issues, or how these might be addressed, are questions that remain unanswered.

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Goals Soccer Centres was making a loss in 2015, but returned to profit last year, and appointed Mark Jones, formerly of Grosvenor Casinos, as its new chief executive.

It also raised around £17m from investors to pay down debt and the company has a market capitalisation of just under £77m. In January it reported a 1.3 per cent rise in group sales, to £33.4m.

Privately owned Powerleague trades from more than 750 football pitches, and also owns Powerplay, a league operator across 240 venues in the UK. As well as football, Powerplay offers leagues for sports such as basketball, dodgeball and netball.

Powerleague was bought by Patron Capital Partners in 2009 in a deal which put an enterprise value of about £80m on the company.

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