Last bid to avert McIlroy action


Published: Tuesday 3rd February 2015 by The News Editor

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World number one Rory McIlroy is to continue negotiations with his former agent in an attempt to avert a potentially long and bitter courtroom showdown over a multi-million pound contract dispute.

The High Court in Dublin heard progress was being made in discussions which took place over five hours at the Four Courts complex.

The four-time major winner, fresh from a weekend victory in Dubai, is suing Conor Ridge’s Horizon Sports Management over the cut his firm was taking from his on and off course earnings.

A year and four months since the Northern Irishman challenged his ex-manager over the fees he was charging, negotiations were set to continue tonight before lawyers return to court at 11am on Wednesday.

The 25-year-old had sued Ridge in a row over £4.2million in fees. But the divisive courtroom battle was expected to have involved arguments over tens of millions in lost commissions and earnings from wins on the course and massive sponsorship deals.

The case had been expected to last eight weeks.

At a packed court number one in the Four Courts in Dublin, Judge Brian Cregan agreed to allow further last-ditch talks between the McIlroy camp and Ridge’s advisers.

The court had heard in the morning that the two sides wanted time to negotiate and ”narrow the issues”.

After the first two hours of talks, the judge was told that progress had been made and at 4pm he agreed to give both sides another night to work on the issues.

McIlroy was in court, supported by business executive Barry Funston, who oversees the golfer’s charitable work through the Rory McIlroy Foundation, and his cousin Brian McIlroy. Ridge was also in court.

The case centres on McIlroy’s contract with Dublin-based Horizon and two other linked companies, the Malta-based Gurteen and Canovan Management, also based in the Irish capital.

The golfer, who took up the game as a youngster in Holywood, Co Down, and now has a home in Florida, claims the terms were inferior to those given to other top-10 players including fellow countryman and major-winning friend Graeme McDowell, who was in the same stable.

In court papers when the case was launched in late 2013, it was claimed McIlroy signed up with Ridge’s agency at an informal meeting on the day of Horizon’s Christmas party in 2011.

The golfer, whose address at the time was given as Avenue Princess Grace in Monaco, alleged he was exploited, misled and taken advantage of when he joined the Dublin agency.

The court heard he had no legal advice or knowledge of negotiating before he signed up, and trusted them to charge the appropriate rates.

The dispute involves McIlroy’s claim that Horizon charged almost four times what top ten golfers pay to agents.

The pre-tax rates were set at 5 per cent of prize winnings and 20 per cent of sponsorship and appearances money, a charge his lawyers claim is reserved for an ”inexperienced or unproven golfer”, the court heard last year.

McIlroy’s business interests are now overseen by Rory McIlroy Incorporated, which is headed by Donal Casey, formerly of Horizon, his father Gerry and Funston.

Published: Tuesday 3rd February 2015 by The News Editor

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