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Lawyers: Rory McIlroy on ‘markedly inferior’ terms to Graeme McDowell

Rory McIlroy, Conor Ridge
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Rory McIlroy and Conor Ridge of Horizon Sports Management in 2012.

Lawyers appearing before an Irish commercial court on behalf of Rory McIlroy on Monday argued that McIlroy was on "markedly inferior" commercial terms compared to Graeme McDowell under their respective representation agreements with Horizon Sports Management, reports the Independent.

McIlroy, 25, is suing his former agent Conor Ridge of Horizon Sports Management over commissions tied to his off-the-course income, most notably his Nike endorsement deal, reportedly worth anywhere from $200-$250 million. According to Forbes, the agreement entitles Horizon to a 20 percent fee on all of McIlroy's off-the-course income, a figure which McIlroy called "unconscionable." McIlroy claims that Ridge led him to believe that he would be on the same commercial terms as McDowell; Horizon disputes that claim.

According to Bloomberg, McIlroy told the Dublin High Court last year that he was too young and lacked legal advice and business experience when he signed the deal with Horizon "in circumstances of great informality" at Horizon's Christmas party in 2011.

McIlroy's lawyers also claimed that McDowell was a shareholder in Dublin-based Horizon Sports Management, though according to the report, McIlroy "has no complaint against [McDowell] personally" and does not plan to involve McDowell in the dispute. Paul Sreenan, a lawyer for Horizon, countered that a "separate vehicle" called Gurteen Limited, of which McDowell was not a shareholder, had been set up to handle McIlroy's interests.

The trial, which could last two months, is set to begin in January, and McIlroy is expected to be on the stand for at least two weeks. 

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