After initially allowing Wayne Rooney to spend a fortnight or so recuperating from his ‘non-existant’ ankle injury under the expert supervision of the poolside medical team (who, rather strangely, also do a fine line in rum-based cocktails) at Dubai’s five-star Burj Al Arab Hotel, Manchester United then carted him off to Nike Town in Oregon with the club’s official line being that their haughty striker was to undergo an additional period of ‘conditioning’ in the States before returning to Old Trafford.
United’s assistant manager Mike Phelan explained the decision at the time by saying:
“We just thought it might be in the interests of him and the club to have a change of scenery for a little while.
He has had a lot of attention lately and we want to give him the best opportunity that he possibly can to be in good shape when he returns.
He needs the conditioning. We all agree with that. He can go there without the attention he would get around here. If that goes according to plan, he will be available when he returns.”
Rooney is not expected back in England for about three weeks, and the cynical amongst you may suggest that United’s decision to place him in Nike’s guarded possession is merely a means to protect their £250,000-a-week asset from himself by forcibly keeping him out of the tabloid glare until he regains some semblance of fitness, although that’s a different debate for another time – about a week ago in fact.
There has been precious little word emanating from Nike HQ about how Rooney’s physical convalescence is progressing, such is the veiled nature of his stay, but it seems that reports today are suggesting that he may be faced with a double-barrelled legal migraine upon his return to these shores.
The Guardian‘s financial arm, Digger, are reporting this afternoon that Rooney looks set to face two separate court actions, with both set to be heard over the course of this season.
The first hearing is described as ‘the hangover’ from Rooney and wife Coleen’s previously successful defence against a £4 million claim made by his former representative agency, Proactive.
Rooney was accused of withholding the commission on multi-million pound deals brokered by the sports management firm, after the striker made no further payments to the company when his agent Paul Stretford (a former director and founder of Proactive) left the firm in acrimony back in October of 2008 – taking his high-profile client with him.
Proactive had argued that, as the contracts were brokered by Stretford while he was still with the firm, they were still due the 20% commission (£4.3 million), although the Rooneys eventually won on the basis of their eight-year representation deal (which was signed whilst both were still 17-years-old) was a ‘restriction of trade’.
However, Rooney still owes his former agency for ‘unpaid invoices for services rendered’ until the autumn of 2008, which will be the subject of a court hearing which has been pencilled in for some time next spring, with Digger claiming that Proactive will be likely to claim yet another seven-figure sum.
The second of the two potential court summons stands to be the more disruptive, as Proactive are also claiming damages against Rooney’s long-serving agent – the aforementioned, and suitably named, Stretford.
From Digger‘s report:
“Proactive’s litigation will attest that Stretford, who was sacked by the company in 2008 for alleged gross misconduct, is personally liable for the company’s loss of future commissions after it lost Rooney as a client as a consequence of the sacking.”
Sources suggest that Stretford, who is now a cool £2.6 million-a-year better off having negotiating Rooney’s way through the recent contract upheaval at Old Trafford, is said to be supremely relaxed about the threats – after admitting that he is confident that the litigation ‘won’t even reach court’.
After contributing the sum total of sweet Fanny Adams to the United and England cause over the past few months, supporters of both teams – and fans of ham faced strikers in general across the globe – must be pleading for a swift resolution to Rooney’s ongoing turbulence.