Rory McIlroy’s opening day in court lasts just 42 seconds

Battle goes on for share of Rory’s £100m deal

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The Independent Online

Rory McIlroy’s bitter multi-million-pound lawsuit against his former management company began in court here but the world No 1 was only in front of the judge for a matter of seconds.

There had been an expectation that, even after 18 months of build-up, there might be an out-of-court settlement, and there still might, as at 11am yesterday, McIlroy’s counsel, Paul Gallagher SC, informed Judge Brian Cregan that there were many issues at stake and that the two sets of lawyers would like to “narrow some of those” in private. The whole thing lasted just 42 seconds.

They negotiated all day, court rising again for mere seconds at 2pm and 4pm to be told progress was being made.

At 11am this morning, Mr Gallagher is widely expected to tell the court that a settlement has been reached. If he doesn’t, and asks for more time, the judge will have to decide how much more court counter-suing, after McIlroy stopped paying the fees Ridge believes he is owed.

McIlroy said last week: “It’s a shame it’s gone this far and that two sides see things completely differently. The only way to sort it out is to get a judge to come in and tell us what to do.”

But that would require McIlroy himself to face a lengthy cross examination about all of his financial affairs, something which arguably the world’s most marketable sports person would be understandably reluctant to do.

Ridge believes the contract McIlroy signed is watertight, completely above board and as such is worth many millions of pounds. It runs until 2017, meaning a McIlroy’s contract with Nike alone, which has already been signed with a value of more than £100m, would be worth up to £20m to Ridge’s company.

McIlroy was supported in court yesterday by business executive Barry Funston, who oversees the golfer’s charitable work through the Rory McIlroy Foundation, and his cousin Brian McIlroy. Ridge was also in court.

The golfer, who took up the game as a youngster in Holywood, County Down, and now has a home in Florida, claims the terms of the Horizon deal were inferior to those given to other top-10 players including fellow countryman and major-winning friend Graeme McDowell, who was with the same company.

The dispute involves McIlroy’s claim that Horizon charged almost four times what top-10 golfers pay to agents.

McIlroy’s business interests are now overseen by Rory McIlroy Incorporated, which is headed by Donal Casey, formerly of Horizon, the player’s father Gerry and Funston.