The increased popularity in five-a-side football has boosted profits at Goals Soccer Centres, the company has reported.

Goals said the popularity of the smaller-sided game had continued to grow among all age groups and has now surpassed 11-a-side game in terms of number of participants.

The firm said it was actively seeking more locations to add to the three it already operates in the Midlands at Perry Barr, Star City and Willenhall.

Managing director Keith Rogers said Goals was attracting new and returning players of all ages to the game. He said: "We are getting people of all ages and genders playing, that is what is driving the increase.

"Our centres are attracting people in their 20s, 30s and 40s who may not have played football since they left school. We are getting about 80,000 people going through our doors every single week."

He was speaking as Goals, which is based in East Kilbride near Glasgow, reported an 47 per cent increase in first pretax profits yesterday.

The operator of outdoor soccer centres reported a pre-tax profit of #3.1 million for the six months ended June 30, compared with #2.1 million last year as total sales rose 31 per cent to #9.7 million.

Like for like sales rose by 10 per cent, while the firm was boosted by new openings including a site in Perry Barr, Birmingham.

Goals added that it expected to trade strongly in the next six months, helped by two more sites which are under construction in London and due to open before the end of the financial year.

Goals, which currently has 23 sites across the country, said it expected to open five more centres next year.

Mr Rogers said: "This is an outstanding performance, demonstrating the continued demand in the market for our 'next generation' concept.

"There remains much opportunity and potential to continue to grow our business and to deliver growing returns for shareholders."

Mr Rogers said his firm was actively looking to expand in the West Midlands, and particular work with schools.

Under these arrangements, Goals would build a new soccer centre which could be used by the school during the daytime before being turned over to commercial use in the evenings.

He said Goals would also build sports halls, dance studios and other sporting facilities for the host school. Ten sites had so far been constructed under this arrangement, with more to follow.

"We will invest #2 million in these sites, staff them and allow the schools to use them during the daytime.

"We get access to a good location, but rather than build on a private site where it would not be busy during the day, it is used during the day and we pay rent to the school which has access to it.

"Up to 12,000 school kids going through our doors every week, which has a positive impact on their health, and hopefully they will come back as adults."

Mr Rogers added that the wet summer had failed to have an impact on occupancy levels which were in the high 80 per cent.

"The rain does not stop people playing football at all, especially when you are in a league or playing with friends. There is peer pressures keeps people coming."