A £4.3m court case brought by Proactive Sports Management against Manchester United star Wayne Rooney and his wife Coleen Rooney has commenced at Manchester Mercantile Court.
Proactive used to represent the Rooneys through agent Paul Stretford. But Mr. Stretford quit the firm in 2008 to set up a new sports management business and took the Rooneys with him.
Before Mr. Stretford's departure, Proactive received payments of up to 20% commission on multi-million pound deals involving the Rooneys with companies like Nike, Coca-Cola and EA games.
The commission dried up, however, after Mr. Stretford left and refused to authorise further payments.
Ironically, Mr. Stretford founded the company. He departed in acrimony, however, after the Football Association imposed a nine-month ban on him for breaching agents rules; and, much to Mr. Stretford's consternation, Proactive's board of directors refused to fund his appeal.
(Indeed, while Mr. Stretford says he terminated his own contract with Proactive, the company say they dismissed him for gross misconduct.)
Opening the case, Ian Mill QC said:
"If one believes the quotes attributed in the press, it appears Mr. and Mrs. Rooney regard these charges against them as exploitative and financially-driven.
"If by financially-driven they mean [Proactive] wishes to recover the substantial sums due to it, I would respectfully agree, but it is hardly a ground for complaint or for criticism.
"Where, I ask rhetorically, is the exploitation?
"I would respectfully suggest if there is any exploitation it's the exploitation of the Rooneys by Mr. Stretford who has used them to further his dispute with Proactive.
"In short, Proactive simply seeks the monies to which it is contractually entitled."
BBC News reports the case is scheduled to last three weeks, with Wayne and Coleen Rooney expected to give evidence next week.
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