Montoya coup earns agent £1.5m

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The Independent Online

Sports management firm CSS Stellar is to rake in nearly £1.5m in fees after securing a new team for Formula One star Juan Pablo Montoya.

Montoya is moving from his current team, Williams-BMW, to arch-rival McLaren-Mercedes for the 2005 season at double the wages.

It is understood he will receive more than $20m (£12m) under the two-year contract, which has an option to continue for a third year.

CSS, which previously received around £600,000 a year from the Colombian driver, will take a cut of around 10 per cent, or £1.4m, in management fees.

The increase in fees is timely for CSS, which listed on the Alternative Investment Market in 2000.

Its shares dived in September after the group posted an interim loss of £725,000. CSS, whose clients include the England football team and Pirates of the Caribbean star Keira Knightley, was hit by anincrease in administration costs last year and a dip in the sponsorship market.

Montoya joined Williams, which is owned by the motor racing entrepreneur Sir Frank Williams, in 2001. The move was a controversial one as he replaced the highly rated Jenson Button, but Montoya is generally agreed to have excelled in his debut season and he came third in this year's world championship.

The driver is thought to have become unhappy at Williams, mainly because his team-mate Ralf Schumacher, brother of world champion Michael, is understood to earn more than him.

Ferrari's Michael Schumacher is the world's highest- paid driver on $25m a year.