Sunday 19 November 2017

McIlroy flies into Dublin for 'nasty, tedious' court wrangle

Breda Heffernan

Breda Heffernan

Golfer Rory McIlroy will be present in the High Court this morning for the opening day of his bitter legal battle with his former management company.

Fresh from his success at the Dubai Desert Classic, the world number one flew into Dublin yesterday and spent the night at The Marker hotel in Grand Canal Dock.

A spokesperson confirmed to the Irish Independent that he will attend the hearing today, although he is not expected to take the stand until later in the week at the earliest.

McIlroy's lawyers met yesterday with his former representatives, Horizon Sports Management, the Dublin agency founded by Conor Ridge.

While the case is estimated to run for up to eight weeks, McIlroy has already signalled he will return to his US home in West Palm Beach when the judge no longer requires his presence.

The 25-year-old split with Horizon in 2013 claiming it had charged commissions "many times greater" than is standard in the sports industry, including one agreement in which he must pay 20pc of his sponsorship and 15pc if the contract was renewed after 2017.

McIlroy has described the legal wrangle as “a very tedious and nasty process”.
McIlroy has described the legal wrangle as “a very tedious and nasty process”.
Rory McIlroy and his parents, Rose and Gerry, pose with the trophy after Mcllroy won the final round of the Dubai Desert Classic

He is suing the company, along with Gurteen Ltd and Canovan Management Services, claiming the representation agreement he signed is unenforceable on grounds including undue influence.

McIlroy claims he was just 22 when he signed the agreement, without the benefit of legal advice and with no business experience.

The defendants deny the claims and have counter-claimed for revenues allegedly outstanding under the agreement for off-course revenues.

They estimate they are owed $9m (€7.9m) in commission and are seeking damages for loss of further revenues.

McIlroy could face up to six days of questioning in the High Court.

If the case goes the full distance without a settlement being reached, the judge's verdict could be announced in the fortnight before McIlroy's bid at Augusta to become the sixth player in history to win the career grand slam.

Senior Counsel for the defendants, Paul Sreenan, has previously said that the ink on their March 2013 agreement was barely dry when McIlroy left to set up his own company, Rory McIlroy Inc.

A number of figures close to ­McIlroy left Horizon to join his new company, including his PA Sean O'Flaherty and consultant Donal Casey, who became chief executive of Rory McIlroy Inc.

As part of the legal battle, Horizon had sought access to McIlroy's phones, as well as those of his father Gerry, and claimed he had deliberately wiped data which could be relevant to the case from as many as eight phones.

In an affidavit, McIlroy said he used the factory reset facility before changing phones to preserve his privacy and avoid unsolicited calls from journalists.

Mediation between the sides was ordered by a judge last September but failed.

Sources said last night that a last- minute settlement was still possible before today's court sitting but the case appeared likely to go ahead.

The details of McIlroy's finances could be laid bare and Horizon's lawyers could well decide to rake through his private life.

Portrush golfer Graeme McDowell may also find some of his personal details being publicised.

One of the contentions of the McIlroy case is that his Ryder Cup team-mate, and one-time Horizon shareholder, received "markedly superior" terms from the agency when it was promised otherwise.

McIlroy has described the legal wrangle as "a very tedious and nasty process".

"It's not something I would want anyone to go through.

"It's a shame it has gone this far. But it's hard when two sides see things completely differently. The only way seems to be to get a judge to sort it out and tell us what to do."

Speaking last week, he said: "Of course I can't wait for it to be finished. Hopefully it won't take too long and it will all be over and done with and we can all move on with our lives.

"I'm going to be heading to the States, regardless, with it off my mind. That will be it."

Irish Independent

Promoted Links

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News