Wayne Rooney faces a potential double headache on his return from the “change of scenery” prescribed by Manchester United last week, when they dispatched him to Nike’s US headquarters, missing tonight’s derby at Eastlands. That headache relates to two separate court actions that could be heard over the course of this season.
The first is the hangover of his and his wife Coleen’s previous, successful defence against a £4m claim from his former agent, Proactive. Although the Rooneys won that case, the United forward still owes Proactive for unpaid invoices for services rendered until the autumn of 2008, the subject of a hearing some time next spring. Proactive will claim a seven-figure sum but the Rooney camp is highly confident the judge’s indications are that he will have to pay no more than £100,000.
Perhaps more disruptive will be Proactive’s claim against Rooney’s long-serving agent, Paul Stretford. 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. Stretford, £2.6m a year better off after negotiating Rooney’s recent contract extension, is said to be supremely relaxed about the latest litigation. Indeed he believes it will not even reach court.
United and England fans must hope there is an early settlement. The last court action is said by many in the game to have contributed to the state of mind that has so undermined his level of performance this year.