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Rooney emerges unscathed from court battle

Update: 2010-07-15 01:51:09

MANCHESTER: Manchester United and England star Wayne Rooney will pay just nominal damages to his former agents Proactive after an attempt to sue him for 4.3 million pounds (6.6 million dollars).

Rooney will have to pay only a "restitutional remedy" amounting to around 90,000 pounds (138,227 dollars) after the ruling into his court battle with the sports management firm was handed down on Thursday.

Rooney and his wife Coleen had been taken to court by Proactive, who claimed the couple had withheld the commission on multi-million pound deals brokered during the time they represented him.

The 24-year-old made no payments after football agent Paul Stretford, a director and founder of Proactive, left the firm in October 2008 -- taking with him Rooney and the revenue his fame generated.

Rooney was signed by Stretford for Proactive in 2002 when he was still playing for Everton and the teenage striker quickly garnered multi-million sponsorship deals with companies including Nike, Coca-Cola and EA Sports.

Proactive argued that, as such contracts for Rooney and Coleen were brokered by Stretford while he was still at the firm, they were due the 20 percent commission -- amounting to 4.3 million pounds.

But Judge Brendan Hegarty, who had postponed handing down the ruling until after the World Cup following a three-week trial in February, dismissed that claim and also rejected an application to appeal from Proactive`s lawyers.

Judge Hegarty told the court: "The contract imposed very substantial restraints upon Mr Rooney`s freedom to exploit his earning ability over a very long period of time on terms which were not commonplace in the market and which were not the outcome of commercial negotiation between equals.

"Proactive cannot, therefore, recover as a matter of contract, any sums which remain unpaid but which would otherwise have fallen due to it under the terms of the agreement had it not been unenforceable."

Ian Mill QC, representing Proactive, told the court they would consider taking the matter to the Court of Appeal.

In a statement, Rooney, who followed the ruling while on holiday in Barbados, said: "I am delighted to have won this case. Coleen and I have always been happy to pay all commissions due to the people who were owed them.

"But these sums were a joke and we felt they were just an attempt to exploit us. Fortunately the judge has knocked back their massively over-inflated claims and we are happy to pay the very small sum awarded.

"Going to court was the last thing I wanted to do. I was shocked that a company which represents some of Britain`s biggest entertainers was going down this road, which meant that private financial and commercial matters were made public.

"But you always have to fight for what`s right in life and that`s why we contested it."

Rooney`s statement thanked his legal team and witnesses who appeared on his behalf, including Manchester United chief executive David Gill and Gordon Taylor from the Professional Footballers` Association.

Proactive said in a statement it was pleased the court had accepted its "factual evidence" and "substantially rejected" the account of events put forward by Stretford.

But the firm were unhappy with the judge`s ruling and added: "Proactive is disappointed that the court has not felt able, without a further hearing, to assess the sums that are to be paid to it by Mr Rooney`s company and that the court did not accept all the legal arguments advanced by Proactive as to the amount of money that it should be paid.

"It will continue to take all appropriate steps to ensure that it receives proper and reasonable recompense for its successful endeavours in representing Mr and Mrs Rooney and their companies over many years."


BDST: 2144hrs, July 15, 2010

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