Rory McIlroy's €22m deal in less than 40 seconds
THE ink was barely dry on golfer Rory McIlroy's $25m (€22m) settlement with former agent Horizon when the World Number One jetted out to Florida after the case, dubbed the commercial "trial of the century", was brought to heel in less than 40 seconds.
McIlroy left Ireland yesterday morning, just hours after a deal was brokered in the early hours in Arran Square, the apartment and office complex where some of the country's leading barristers have their offices.
White smoke appeared over Arran Square, beside Dublin's Four Courts, at 2.45am when text messages circulated that a deal was on the cards: the final i's were dotted and t's crossed at approximately 4am.
The deal was brokered by former Attorney General Paul Gallagher SC and Michael Cush SC, for McIlroy, and Paul Sreenan SC and Maurice Collins SC, for Conor Ridge's Horizon.
The deal contains a non-disclosure clause and the parties agreed that the deal would not be publicised until High Court judge Mr Justice Brian Cregan was informed of the outcome.
It is understood that McIlroy will pay Horizon's legal costs as part of the settlement.
Sources close to both sides say that Ridge and McIlroy are delighted to have the case, described by the golfer recently as "nasty and tedious", brought to a conclusion.
The golfer was not in court to hear the settlement being announced by Mr Gallagher hours later.
He left Dublin for Belfast late on Tuesday night and jetted out to his Florida home yesterday morning.
Meanwhile, Ridge was embraced by his supporters and legal team in the High Court yesterday morning as the long-running legal battle came to a close.
In reaching the deal, McIlroy has avoided up to six days in the witness box.
It also means details of his business affairs and lucrative sponsorship agreements will not be aired in open court.
The settlement followed a marathon day of out-of-court negotiations between legal teams for the two sides on Tuesday.
The golfer spent almost 12 hours in the Four Courts as the two legal teams were locked in negotiations. He only emerged from the building at 9pm, looking tired and drawn. He then left for Belfast.
Neither he nor his entourage attended court yesterday for the announcement of the settlement.
Mr Gallagher told Mr Justice Brian Cregan the parties were "very grateful" for the time the court had allowed them and announced the "entire matter has been resolved".
He said no order from the court was required and asked for the matter to be put back for mention to February 24 when the court is likely to be told that the settlement has been put in train.
Mr Justice Cregan congratulated both sides for bringing a swift conclusion to what could have been a very lengthy court case - it had been scheduled to last up to eight weeks.
The judge wished Horizon every success for their business in the future and also wished Mr McIlroy success.
A brief two-line statement was then issued on behalf of both parties.
It said: "The legal dispute between Rory McIlroy and Horizon Sports Management has been settled to the satisfaction of both parties who wish each other well for the future. The parties will be making no further comment."
Ridge left the Four Courts minutes later and was greeted by a bank of photographers and camera crews as he stepped outside.
The path to the Four Courts
October 2011 - McIlroy drops his manager Chubby Chandler and leaves International Sports Management to join Horizon.
January 2013 - McIlroy is unveiled as the new face of Nike in a 10-year sponsorship deal rumoured to be worth $200m. Signs further deals with Bose and Omega.
September 2013 - The golfer confirms his split from Horizon and sets up his own company, Rory McIlroy Incorporated. Board members include Donal Casey, previously a consultant at Horizon, Barry Funston, the head of McIlroy's charity, The Rory Foundation, and Gerry McIlroy, the golfer's father. Horizon says it is consulting its lawyers.
October 2013 - The legal battle between McIlroy and Horizon gets under way in the Commercial Court as each sues the other. The golfer claims he paid €5m to Horizon on what he says are unreasonable fee rates "many times greater" than the industry n orm.
Horizon counter-sues for breaking their contract.
June 2014 - Lawyers for McIlroy claims he got "markedly inferior" representation terms compared to fellow golfer at Horizon Graeme McDowell, despite alleged representations they would get similar terms. Horizon accuses McIlroy of "orchestrating" the timing of the lawsuit against it to clash with the wedding of McDowell, knowing Conor Ridge will be attending the celebration in the Bahamas.
September 2014 - Mr Justice Brian McGovern orders the sides to engage in mediation. The sides return to court a month later to report no agreement has been reached.
December 2014 - Horizon accuses McIlroy of deliberately having his mobile phones "wiped clean" claiming they may have contained important information relating to the court case. In an affidavit, McIlroy says he used the factory reset facility before changing phones to preserve his privacy and avoid unsolicited calls from journalists.
February 3, 2015 - The case is due to open in the High Court but McIlroy's legal team immediately request an adjournment to allow for talks between the two sides.
February 4, 2015 - The dispute is settled for an undisclosed sum, believed to be $25m.