Rory McIlroy accuses former sponsor Oakley of harassment
US multinational suing golfer in California over his hugely lucrative sponsorship deal with Nike
Rory McIlroy: has said the clothing firm is trying to “harass” him by seeking an overly broad range of documents and is engaged in a “sweeping fishing expedition”
Rory McIlroy is relying on the credibility of his former agent, Conor Ridge, in a case being taken against the golfer in California, while accusing Mr Ridge of deception in a case he is taking in Dublin, a court in the US has been told.
The claim was made by the US multinational Oakley, which is suing Mr McIlroy and Nike in California over the golfer’s hugely lucrative sponsorship deal with Nike.
Before the deal with Nike, Mr McIlroy had an agreement with Oakley to wear and endorse its products which, it claims, gave it a right of first refusal over any new deal with the golfer.
Oakley is seeking documents from Mr McIlroy linked to his relationship with Mr Ridge, of Horizon Sports Management, the Dublin business that used to act for McIlroy but which he is now suing in the Dublin courts.
Mr McIlroy, in response, has said the clothing firm is trying to “harass” him by seeking an overly broad range of documents and that it is engaged in a “sweeping fishing expedition”.
In its submission, Oakley says that Mr Ridge, of Horizon, represented Mr McIlroy both in its dealings with Oakley and with Nike at the time when the Oakley agreement was coming to an end and the Nike agreement was being negotiated.
“Mr Ridge’s credibility is at the heart of this case,” according to the Oakley submission. “Last month, however, McIlroy terminated his contract with Ridge and Horizon and has since initiated a lawsuit in Ireland against Horizon accusing it and Ridge of ‘exploiting’ and ‘misleading’ Mr McIlroy and of breaching their fiduciary duties.”
It says the documents it is seeking are relevant to the credibility and level of care of the individuals involved, “particularly in the light of the allegations of deception and exploitation at issue” in the Dublin dispute.
Oakley says that in the US case the golfer is relying on the credibility of Mr Ridge, while making accusations against him in the Dublin case.
A ruling over whether Mr McIlroy should supply the documents requested will now be made by the district court of California.
As a compromise, Mr McIlroy has offered to give documents showing his representation agreement with Horizon as well as the book of papers from the Irish court case. He has already supplied Oakley with documents outlining his dealings with Nike.
Horizon, which is not involved in the US case, has told the Dublin courts it intends to strongly contest the claims made by its former client and submit a counterclaim. It is scheduled to make its submissions to the Commercial Court in Dublin on November 26th.