Wayne Rooney has defeated attempts by his former management firm to sue him for £4.3m in withheld commission.
The Manchester United and England striker made no payments after football agent Paul Stretford, a director and founder of Proactive, left the firm in acrimony in October 2008, taking with him their star client.
Rooney (24), who is currently on holiday abroad, was signed by Stretford for Proactive in 2002.
Then 17, he went from being an £80-a-week Everton trainee living in his parents' council house in Croxteth, Liverpool, to a household name with sponsorship deals from the likes of Nike and Coca-Cola.
But he made no more commission payments on the deals after Mr Stretford left the firm in October 2008.
Proactive argued that, as the contracts for Rooney and his wife Coleen were brokered by Stretford while he was at the firm, it was still due the 20% commission — amounting to £4.3m.
Yesterday Judge Brendan Hegarty QC, ruling at Manchester Mercantile Court, said the original contract Rooney signed with Proactive amounted to a “restraint of trade” as it was up to eight years long, when the Football Association recommended a maximum of two years. Judge Hegarty ruled Proactive was only entitled to “restitutional remedy” from the Rooneys of around £90,000.
He rejected the firm’s application to appeal. Ian Mill QC, for Proactive, told the court they would consider going to the Court of Appeal.
Rooney said: “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. But you always have to fight for what's right in life and that's why we contested it.”