Belfast Telegraph

Nike refuses to reveal details of Rory McIlroy sponsorship deal for lawsuit

By Dearbhail McDonald

Sportswear and equipment giant Nike, sponsor of Co Down golfer Rory McIlroy, will not grant his former agent access to confidential details of its dealings with him.

Mr McIlroy struck a US$20m, or almost £12m a year sponsorship deal in 2012 with Nike, which closely guards its dealings with athletes who promote its brand.

It's been revealed that Nike has objected to the production of confidential documents in an Irish High Court action brought by the superstar player against his former agent, Horizon Sports management.

Horizon helped negotiate the Nike deal before it and McIlroy parted company in acrimonious circumstances last year.

Nike says confidential information can not be shared in the Irish proceedings – and has invoked a protective order issued in the US Courts. Both Nike and Mr McIlroy were sued in the US by Oakley, a former sponsor of Mr McIlroy.

Oakley had maintained that it had the first right of refusal in re-signing the golfer and that McIlroy and Nike violated that right.

A protective order was issued to prevent the disclosure of certain confidential documents connected to the case.

Mr McIlroy settled his action with Oakley last November after spending almost £1m defending the case.

Last December a Californian court ruled that Nike acted impeccably and within the law when signing him on the £12m yearly equipment contract in 2012.

In court papers, Nike said that it had no objection to the production of the publicly available pleadings, motions and court briefs from the Oakley v Nike case.

But it said that to the extent that Horizon sought extra documents designated confidential or highly confidential, it was prevented from doing so because of the US protective order.

In his action, Mr McIlroy is challenging the validity and enforceability of representation agreements involving allegedly "unreasonable" fee rates and commissions.

The case is against Dublin-based Horizon Sports Management Ltd; Gurteen Limited, with a registered address in Malta, and Dublin-based Canovan Management Services.

The defendants deny the claims and have counter-claimed against the world number seven player.

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