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Sports law: Golfer McIlroy sues former management company

Northern Ireland's superstar golfer Rory McIlroy has launched a legal action against his former management company Horizon, who has in turn counter sued, reports The Telegraph.

The court case commenced in the Commercial Division of Northern Ireland's High Court, the division which deals with 'big business' disputes worth over €1m.

On Monday this week, McIlroy's counsel, Rosa Fanning, told the court that McIlroy's case would easily qualify for the fast-track process that will mean the case is heard in 2014, probably in August, to suit McIlroy's busy golfing schedule.

McIlroy split from Horizon last month and will now launch his own management company, Rory McIlroy Incorporated, to manage his affairs.

McIlroy almost immediately sued Horizon, who he claims lured him into a long-term contract when he was young and naïve. His lawyers told the court his 50-year management deal was signed on 21 December 2011, shortly after he won his first major.

His lawyers went on to explain that the contract was presented in the Horizon office, during its annual Christmas party, and that he signed without even having a lawyer present.

These arguments will be used to present a case that McIlroy was unaware of what he was committing himself to, in a bid to avoid significant costs levied by Horizon in the wake of his premature departure.

Horizon claims that after signing with the company, McIlroy secured a £78m deal with Nike to supply his clubs and that this was followed with lucrative contracts with Omega and Bose. In total, Horizon estimates McIlroy's income to be in excess of £30m in the next 12 months.

For its part, Horizon has countersued McIlroy for almost £2m, a figure which some expect could be settled out of court in order to avoid further details of McIlroy's financial affairs being made public.