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Powerleague pitches site closures with CVA plan

By Mark Kleinman, city editor
Powerleague, one of the UK's biggest operators of five-a-side football pitches, is drawing up plans to close a string of sites through a controversial insolvency arrangement after seeing its business hit by the inclement weather which gripped the country earlier this year.
Sky News has learnt that the company, which is owned by the real estate investor Patron Capital Partners, is examining a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) in an effort to secure financial concessions from creditors.
Sources said that a CVA could be launched within weeks, and would reflect the growing pressure on Powerleague's owner to secure a long-term future for the business.The company trades from nearly 50 sites across Britain, and competes with rivals including Goals Soccer Centres, which is listed on the London Stock Exchange.A property industry insider suggested on Friday that a CVA could be launched within a matter of weeks, although the details of any site closures and rent cut requests had yet to be finalised.Deloitte is understood to have been lined up to supervise the process, according to one Powerleague landlord.CVAs have become the most wearily familiar acronym on the British high street during a year in which the frequency of their deployment by struggling chains has simultaneously antagonised property owners and underlined the precarious state of many retail and leisure industry businesses.Among the chains turning to CVAs to restructure their finances have been Byron, Carpetright, Homebase, Mothercare and New Look.
The exact state of Powerleague's finances are unclear, given that it is privately owned, but sources said that Patron had been attempting to find outside investment for the company in the last few months.It is understood to have suffered a substantial hit to its earnings from the "Beast from the East", which left much of Britain in the grip of a deep freeze for several weeks earlier this year.Patron has owned Powerleague, which has about 460 pitches, since 2009, when it was taken private in a deal worth €80m.In addition to football, it has a multi-sport offering including basketball, dodgeball and netball.Last year, Powerleague and Goals held extensive merger talks but failed to agree on a deal.
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Powerleague trades from more than 750 football pitches, and also owns Powerplay, a league operator across 240 UK venues.A Patron spokesman declined to comment.
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