Sunglasses firm Oakley challenges Nike over Rory McIlroy sponsorship
American sunglasses maker Oakley has launched legal action to try to retain its sponsorship of world number one golfer Rory McIlroy, who is set to become the new face of sportswear giant Nike.
US PGA champion McIlroy is poised to rubber-stamp a 10-year deal with US company Nike worth as much as US$250 million, according to media reports.
Nike is set to supply the 23-year-old Northern Irishman's clubs and have its name or logo on his clothing in an exclusive deal.
However Oakley, owned by Italy's Luxottica, is challenging the move and started legal action in its home state of California last month.
"Oakley's contract with Rory has a right of first refusal that permits us to retain Rory as an Oakley endorser by matching any offer he receives covering our products," the company said.
"These types of provisions are common in the industry. Oakley values Rory and will do all it can to retain him," it added.
The Dubai-based hotel company Jumeirah Group confirmed earlier that its five-year sponsorship with 2011 US Open champion McIlroy had ended, the latest indication that confirmation of the Nike deal was imminent.
"Jumeirah became my first corporate sponsor when I turned professional back in 2007 and I would like to thank everyone at the company for their support in helping me become the player I am today," McIlroy said.
Nike is hoping a partnership with the clean-cut McIlroy will help it to move on after it dropped disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong last year over his doping scandal.
The company stuck with Tiger Woods despite the bad publicity the American golfer suffered when a series of extramarital affairs were exposed in 2009.