Ontario Teachers’ makes tilt for UK soccer centre firm

One of Canada’s largest pension funds has made an indicative offer to buy Goals Soccer Centres with its compliment of 42 sites.

One of Canada’s largest pension funds has made an offer to takeover a UK soccer centre company with 42 sites.

The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan has made a preliminary approach for Goals Soccer Centres based in Scotland, it was confirmed today, though the company itself said there was no guarantee an offer would be made.

It has been reported that should the Canadian pension plans’ tilt at Goals Soccer Centres be successful, the investor would make capital available to expand the business. It operates 42 centres in the UK and one in Los Angeles, and while the company has a relatively small turnover and made a pre-tax profit of £9.2 million (€11 million; $15 million) last year, that was a surge of 12 percent.

The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan is among the large Canadian pension funds that have been increasing investments globally in recent years.

In terms of the amount of equity invested in real estate, it has $13.475 billion of property according to PERE’s Global Investor list published last year. That is slightly more than the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System (OMERS) with $11 billion, but less than  Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec has with $18.4 billion and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB), with $16.4 billion.

Though it is unclear whether Soccer Goals would count towards the plan’s real estate allocation, there is a precedent for UK soccer pitch businesses being bought by real estate firms.

In March 2008, London-based Patron Capital made an initial investment in Powerleague on behalf of its Patron Capital III opportunistic real estate fund. Powerleague is the UK’s biggest five-a-side commercial operator in the UK with more than 460 pitches in 45 centres. Patron completed the takeover of the company in December 2009 for £42.5 million.