BoyleSports worried it's being blocked from entering UK market

Calls for an inquiry into why its bid for a raft of shops was overlooked...

BoyleSports, Ireland's biggest independent betting chain, has suggested that it is being blocked from expanding its operations into the UK, following its failure to purchase 359 betting shops in the market.

In a statement yesterday, BoyleSports said it was "disappointed" that its bid was rejected by Ladbrokes and Gala Coral, despite the fact the bookmaker claims it was higher than the £55.5m (€60m) ultimately achieved in the sale of 322 shops to Betfred and 37 to Stan James.

The company said:

"BoyleSports believes the decision not to allow a challenger brand onto the UK high street is bad for retail consumers who would have benefited from the keen pricing and excellent service already available to our existing Irish retail customers and to online customers in Ireland and the UK.

"BoyleSports will be communicating its concerns to the Competition and Markets Authority and is reviewing its options on what other steps may be open to us."

Ladbrokes and Gala Coral have responded that there were multiple other interested parties, some of whom offered significantly higher prices, but certainty and timetable were paramount when it came to the deal. BoyleSports has said that its offer was fully-funded ad could have been completed within two weeks of acceptance.

The Irish Independent understands that the Irish firm is now looking at other retail options in the UK.