Page last updated at 19:07 GMT, Monday, 15 February 2010

Wayne Rooney's contract was 'prudent' says agent

Wayne Rooney at Manchester Mercantile Court
Wayne and Coleen Rooney are being sued for 4.3m

Paul Gascoigne's former agent has told a court Wayne Rooney's contract with the firm suing him for £4.3m was "prudent" and not "too long".

Mel Stein, who represented Gascoigne until 2005, was giving independent evidence in the dispute between Rooney and sports management firm Proactive.

The company claims the England international owes them £4.3m in unpaid commissions.

Rooney's agent, Paul Stretford, is also being sued by Proactive.

Mr Stein told Manchester Mercantile Court that an eight-year agreement Rooney made with Proactive through his agent Paul Stretford was not "unreasonable".

The England international and Manchester United striker signed with the firm when he was was just 17, as he burst into top-flight football at Everton.

Restraint of trade

Mr Stretford brokered multi-million pound sponsorship deals for Rooney and his wife, Coleen, stipulating a 20% commission rate for Proactive.

But when Mr Stretford left the firm in acrimony in October 2008, no further commission payments were paid to the company, the court heard.

Paul Chaisty QC, representing the Rooneys, had suggested the eight-year deal was too long and amounted to a restraint of trade.

But Mr Stein said he thought it was unusual and even "unique" but not unreasonable.

Paul Stretford
Mr Stretford has acted for Wayne Rooney since the forward was 17

He said "predatory" agents would have been waiting to sign the player up as soon as he became successful.

Mr Chaisty said Rooney could have signed a two-year agreement, which he suggested was the standard time limit, but Mr Stein said that was not long enough.

"I don't think two years give you long enough to develop a relationship with a young player," he said.

"It doesn't give the agent or the player a fair crack of the whip."

Mr Stein said Rooney and his family had a choice not to sign the deal.

"At the end of the day these are two consenting parties," he added.

The more normal length of a contract with a football agent would be four or five years, but it depends on what the parties are "giving each other", he said.

"I don't think an eight years agreement is too long.

"I have been married for 40 years. Is that too long?"

To which Mr Chaisty replied: "That's probably for your wife to answer."

Gordon Taylor, the chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association, was due to give evidence but will not now enter the witness box on Tuesday.

The hearing continues.

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