Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley has called for a Goals Soccer Centres boardroom cull due to “the perceived lack of transparency” in its ongoing accounting crisis. 

Sports Direct – which has a 19% stake in the football pitch operator – is calling for an independent investigation into the business’ ongoing talks with HMRC around historical VAT issues.

Sports Direct founder Ashley has demanded that the independent corporate investigator Kroll is appointed to investigate the issues.

The five-a-side pitch operator has been dealing with an ongoing battle around an estimated £12m VAT liability bill.

Sports Direct said it understands that, instead of appointing independent advisers to investigate the matter, Goals Soccer Centres has appointed advisers which “are a division of the company’s auditors”.

Sports Direct has demanded that “this investigation should start without any further delays” as “a substantial amount of the information that will be required by Kroll will already be available”.

In a letter to the former Goals Soccer Centres chief financial officer seen by Sky News, Sports Direct said Goals Soccer Centres had “changed VAT codes on various service lines… [resulting] in Goals being required to approach its investors to seek and secure further funding to cover this liability.

“It is very difficult to understand how this could be allowed to happen and how it could have taken place without assistance, negligence or incompetence from Goals’ officers, auditors or advisers which would otherwise have prevented or promptly discovered these matters.”

Sports Direct added: “In light of the perceived lack of transparency by the Goals board and the resulting loss of confidence Sports Direct has in the board as a whole, Sports Direct will be voting against the reappointment of the whole of the company’s board [at its upcoming annual general meeting on June 28].”