McIlroy Settles Oakley Legal Case

Rory McIlroy in new Nike branded gearRory McIlroy has settled one of his outstanding legal battles. Oakley had been represented by the Ulster golfer in promoting its range of clothing and sportswear up until the time of his deal with Nike in January 2014.

It launched a case based on the clause that it had right of first refusal to match any new deal offered to the player but this has now been dropped. No terms of the settlement have been disclosed.

In a notable edge to the statement the company paid tribute to McIlroy himself, saying that all his engagements with the company had been conducted with ‘energy and professionalism,’ and recognised that the contractual deal had been negotiated by his former agent Horizon Sports rather than him personally.

The case between McIlroy and Horizon Sports Management in which both sides are suing each other in fall out over events through the handling of the commercial side to his career, will be heard in Dublin’s Commercial Court in October 2014, only weeks after the staging of the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles in Scotland.

Oakley were also involved in a high profile case against Lance Armstrong where they were seeking a return of sponsorship monies paid to him during a time when he later admitted to have been doping.

The case highlights the increased importance of legal matters when it comes to sponsorship contracts.

Deals that were once signed with the enthusiasm of their only being a possible, and indeed likely upside for both parties now need to be considered in exactly the same way as any contractual relationship.

The care now needs to be exercised over what the ramifications are for failure to deliver on either side. This is much cleaner in a tournament or a team sport where the chances of a failure to deliver benefit, if not victory is far less likely.

Sponsorship of individuals remains fraught on occasion with the danger of aspects of a personal or even professional life changing from what was originally considered to be the reason for an involvement in the first place.

Key Take Away for Sport: The initial enthusiasm of securing a sponsor always needs to be balanced by the need to get things right in how the relationship will mature.

Key Take Away for Business: Businesses always need to consider the benefits they are getting from any sporting deal in the same way as they would a contract in a less glamorous area.

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