Two months ago, Bloomberg and Businessweek named Rory McIlroy the fourteenth most powerful athlete in the world based on his statistics, the popularity and viewing audience of the sport of golf, McIlroy’s endorsement earnings, and his reach on social media (@McIlroyRory currently has over 1.6 million followers on Twitter). McIlroy was represented by Conor Ridge of Horizon Sports Management at the time that he received the favorable ranking. He had teamed up with Ridge in 2011 after terminating his long professional relationship with Andrew ‘Chubby’ Chandler, the Managing Director of International Sports Management (ISM).
Now McIlroy is once again “on to the next one.” However, instead of leaving Ridge for alternative representation, McIlroy has determined that he will establish his own management group. The Golf Digest report states that McIlroy’s new management group will include his father, close friends and associates.
Tony Manfred of Business Insider notes that McIlroy is dumping his agent who helped him sign a $250 million endorsement deal with Nike. That deal ended up resulting in McIlroy being sued by Oakley for breach of contract based on an alleged failure by McIlroy to recognize Oakley’s right of first refusal to match offers received from Oakley’s competitors. Bose and Omega also became McIlroy sponsors during the course of his representation by Ridge.
McIlroy’s decision to start his own management group is nontraditional, although it is a growing trend, at least among athletes outside of team sports. In December 2012, tennis player Rafael Nadal terminated his agency relationship with IMG Worldwide to start his own management company with his father and manager. Earlier that year, another famous tennis player Roger Federer left IMG with his agent Tony Godsick to form his own agency.