Page last updated at 16:21 GMT, Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Manchester United star Wayne Rooney sued for 4.3m

Wayne Rooney
Wayne and Coleen Rooney are being sued for 4.3m

Manchester United's Wayne Rooney and his wife, Coleen, are being sued alongside their agent in a £4.3m row with a sports management firm.

The firm, Proactive Sports Management, was involved in negotiating contracts for the couple and is owed commission, Manchester Mercantile Court heard.

The deals were done through agent Paul Stretford, who quit Proactive in 2008, taking the Rooneys with him.

Since then no commission on the deals has been paid, the court heard.

Proactive received commission of up to 20% on multi-million pound deals involving the Rooneys. It claims it is still entitled to commission.

But when Mr Stretford left in acrimony in October 2008 he refused to authorise further payments to the firm, the court heard. That commission now totals £4.3m, the court heard.

Mr Stretford first signed Rooney when the footballer was a teenager playing for Everton.

Agent 'successful'

Ian Mill QC, acting for Proactive, opened the case against the Rooneys and Mr Stretford at the court on Tuesday.

"If one believes the quotes attributed in the press, it appears Mr and Mrs Rooney regard these charges against them as exploitative and financially-driven - these are the quotations that appear in a number of national newspapers," he said.

"If by financially-driven they mean the claimant wishes to recover the substantial sums due to it, I would respectfully agree, but it is hardly a ground for complaint or for criticism."

Mr Mill said that from July 2002, Paul Stretford, through Proactive, had acted for Wayne Rooney "with great success", looking after transfer dealings and his "off-field" business interests.

In short, Proactive simply seeks the monies to which it is contractually entitled
Ian Mill QC, acting for Proactive

He also represented Coleen Rooney in her television, magazine and sponsorship deals, the QC added.

But the relationship between Proactive and Mr Stretford broke down over his involvement in a trial at Warrington Crown Court in October 2004.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) dropped the case because they could "not rely" on him as a witness, Mr Mill said.

Disciplinary hearings were then brought against Mr Stretford by the Football Association (FA) over breaches of agents rules, which led to a nine-month ban beginning in May 2009.

He left Proactive after the board refused to back financially Mr Stretford's appeal against the FA.

Proactive claims he was dismissed for gross misconduct; Mr Stretford maintains he terminated his own contract, the court heard.

Since 8 October 2008, Mr Stretford has refused to authorise payments of commission said to be due to Proactive from contracts signed by the Rooneys while with the company, Mr Mill said.

Proactive claims this amounts to £4.3m in the last 15 months.

"Where, I ask rhetorically, is the exploitation?" Mr Mill added.

"I would respectfully suggest if there is any exploitation it's the exploitation of the Rooneys by Mr Stretford who has used them to further his dispute with Proactive.

"In short, Proactive simply seeks the monies to which it is contractually entitled."

The case is scheduled to last three weeks, with the Rooneys expected to give evidence next week.

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