Senior judges ruled that an image rights representation agreement a sports management firm made with football star Wayne Rooney when he was a teenager with “stellar potential” was an unreasonable restraint of trade. Three appeal judges concluded the agreement Rooney made with Proactive in 2003, when he was 17, was legally “unenforceable”.
Proactive Sports Management no longer represents the 26-year-old Manchester United and England striker or his wife Coleen. But the firm said that it was owed commission payments and made a £4.3 million claim.
Last year Judge Brendan Hegarty QC ruled against Proactive following a hearing at Manchester Mercantile Court. And appeal judges said yesterday they agreed with Judge Hegarty’s conclusion that the agreement was “unenforceable as being in unreasonable restraint of trade”.
Appeal judge Lady Justice Arden said: “A crucial point is that Wayne Rooney was only 17 years old when this agreement was signed.
“The judge held the (agreement) imposed very substantial restraints upon Wayne Rooney’s freedom to exploit his earning capacity over a very lengthy period.”
She went on: “The judge said Proactive failed to justify the restraints imposed on (Rooney) under the (agreement) and that it was therefore unenforceable.”