The agents are also claiming that Gilbert owes them money from his ESPN contract:
August 29, 2006
Gilbert eager to contest breach of contract suit
From Neil Harman, Tennis Correspondent in New York
THERE were those who wondered whether, in signing such a charismatic figure as Brad Gilbert, British tennis had bitten off more than it could chew. The revelation yesterday that Andy Murray’s coach is being sued for alleged breach of contract by his management company on the eve of the US Open sent the temperature up a few degrees.
The 45-year-old was served with a complaint by Creative Sports and Entertainment Inc in the foyer of his hotel on Friday evening, citing his failure to pay the 15 per cent in fees it says it is owed for helping to broker his deal with ESPN, the American cable television network, and for its assistance in setting him up with the LTA, his new employer. Gilbert said yesterday that he will vigorously defend the action.
He is more concerned about the impact that such a story will have on Murray, 19, who is scheduled to begin his US Open campaign today against Robert Kendrick, the American qualifier. “He has a tough enough task as it is,” Gilbert said. “I will deal with my situation.”
Roger Draper, the chief executive of the LTA, said that he was “not unduly concerned” and that the matter had been placed with the LTA’s lawyers, but the timing could hardly have been much worse.
An e-mail was sent to every member of the British press arriving for the first day of the US Open by Creative’s law firm, ensuring maximum exposure. There are 65 points to the complaint, the most remarkable of which suggests that, while the agreement between Gilbert and the LTA was thought to be for £500,000 over three years, a sum of $1.3 million (about £685,000) a year over 3½ years, excluding bonuses, is closer to the mark.
The complaint says: “One of the most profitable contracts secured for Mr Gilbert was a three-year broadcasting contract with ESPN, which would pay him $60,000 for each grand-slam tournament. From April 2005 until May 2006, each payment was paid directly to Creative by ESPN and, after deducting its 15 per cent fee, Creative would tender the remaining balance to Mr Gilbert. However, in or about July 2006, Mr Gilbert began acting contrary to the agreement.”
Creative alleges that Gilbert instructed ESPN to pay the money directly to him, rather than the company and its president, David Bagliebter, “a personal friend for 20 years”.
The complaint goes on: “On or about May 29, 2006, Mr Gilbert informed Mr Bagliebter that the LTA had recently fired its performance director, David Felgate, and would be looking for a replacement. At Mr Gilbert’s request, Mr Bagliebter contacted Roger Draper, the head of the LTA, about the possibility of Mr Gilbert entering into an agreement with the LTA.”
Bagliebter is then alleged to have received an e-mail from Patricio Apey, Murray’s agent, asking Bagliebter to contact him. On May 30, Bagliebter “advised Gilbert of his conversations with Draper and Apey, and Gilbert told him to ‘go ahead’ with negotiations with the LTA”.
It is further alleged that Creative initially hoped to secure for Gilbert a deal worth $8 million over five years.
“On or about June 12, 2006, Gilbert affirmatively misled Mr Bagliebter by informing him that he probably would not enter an agreement with the LTA because it would require him to be in England for a substantial amount of time,” the complaint said. “Thereafter, Gilbert refused to respond to Mr Bagliebter’s inquiries concerning negotiations with the LTA.”
However, the complaint does say that Gilbert acknowledged later to Bagliebter that he had “entered into an agreement with the LTA that would pay him $1.3 million a year for 3½ years, plus bonuses”.
Creative says that, under its management agreement, it is entitled to 15 per cent of all fees that have been paid to Gilbert, as well as 15 per cent of any unearned fees that will be paid to Gilbert over the lifetime of his agreement with the LTA.