Hill Dickinson seals victory for Rooney in agent dispute

The Court of Appeal (CoA) has dismissed a multi-million pound claim brought against Manchester United footballer Wayne Rooney by his former agency Proactive Sports Management.


Wayne Rooney
Wayne Rooney

The ruling gives victory to Hill Dickinson partner Geraldine Ryan, who instructed Paul Chaisty QC of Kings Chambers to lead of counsel Mark Harper of the same set.

Upholding the first instance decision, Lady Justice Arden, Lord Justices Sullivan and Gross said the agreement entered into by the parties was unenforceable as it imposed an unreasonable restraint on the footballer’s trade.

The company launched its action against Rooney in October 2008, instructing Blackstone Chambers’ Ian Mill QC. At the CoA Herbert Reeves & Co Solicitors instructed Christopher Jeans QC of 11KBW for the appellants.

ProActive claimed it was entitled to 20 per cent of the footballer’s earnings under the Image Rights Representation Agreement signed by Rooney and the agency.

That agreement ceased to exist in 2008 and Hill Dickinson argued that the recoverable amount should be reduced significantly. At the Manchester Mercantile Court Judge Brendan Hegarty QC ruled that Rooney should pay £5,000, and his wife Coleen around £90,000

The CoA upheld the ruling but ordered Coleen Rooney’s company, Speed 9849, to pay Proactive a sum for work conducted on her behalf after she had left the agency. That figure will be determined by the High Court.

The court was told that Rooney had been signed by agent Paul Stretford for Proactive in 2002 when at Everton at the age of 17. Stretford, a founder and director of Proactive, left the firm in 2008. He launched a new sports management firm and took Rooney with him.

Rooney had not made commission payments on deals after Stretford left the company. Proactive argued that because contracts were brokered by Stretford while he was still at the firm, it was due commission.