Rooneys face 43m legal action

Last updated : 02 February 2010 By BBC Sport

The couple owe commission to Proactive, a firm which negotiated multi-million pound contracts on their behalf, Manchester Mercantile Court was told.

The firm's primary point of contact was agent Paul Stretford, a former Proactive director who quit in 2008.

Proactive claims he failed to authorise payments after his departure.

The sports management company received commission of up to 20% on multi-million pound deals for the Rooneys to endorse firms such as Nike and Coca-Cola.

But when Mr Stretford, who has represented Rooney since he was a teenager playing for Everton, left in acrimony in October 2008 he refused to authorise further commission, now worth £4.3 million, the court heard.

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 financially back 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.

Source: BBC Sport

Source: BBC Sport