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I play for titles, I don't play for the money, says McIlroy after signing $250m deal

Rory McIlroy praised the clubs of his new sponsor, Nike, yesterday, saying he was hitting the ball further than ever after agreeing a multi-year sponsorship deal with the US sportswear firm.

Rory McIlroy is unveiled as brand ambassador for Nike yesterday in Abu Dhabi. Picture: Matthew Lewis /Getty Images
Rory McIlroy is unveiled as brand ambassador for Nike yesterday in Abu Dhabi. Picture: Matthew Lewis /Getty Images

Although commercial terms were not disclosed, media reports say the agreement with the Northern Irishman is worth as much as $250m over 10 years, one of the most lucrative in global sports as Nike moves on after dropping disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong last year.

McIlroy was previously sponsored by golf brand Titleist and other golfers have struggled to replicate their earlier success after switching their equipment provider. However, McIlroy was full of confidence ahead of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship which starts on Thursday.

"The new driver I will play with this week is awesome," he told a news conference to announce his sponsorship. "As soon as I hit it, I knew it was going in the bag. I'm hitting it further – I thought I was hitting it far before, but this takes it to a new level."

The world No.1 visited Nike's research and development facility in Fort Worth, Texas, in late 2012 to try out his new clubs and balls and has continued to practise over Christmas and New Year. He said the sponsorship deal was about improving his game rather than personal riches.

"I play for titles, I don't play for money . . . If at the end of 2013 I haven't won a major, I will be disappointed," said McIlroy, adding the new Nike balls were more stable in the wind and he was now driving the ball at about 180 miles an hour.

Under the deal, McIlroy will use the company's clubs and balls and wear its clothing with the familiar swoosh logo.

McIlroy is part of a high-profile sporting couple with former world women's tennis No.1 Caroline Wozniacki.

The agreement with Nike has not been accepted by all of McIlroy's previous sponsors. Sunglasses maker Oakley has started legal action to try to retain its sponsorship deal with McIlroy, saying it had the right to match any improved agreement with another company.

The US PGA champion, topped the tournament earnings lists in both the USA and Europe last year and is seen as having supplanted Tiger Woods as the game's greatest talent.

The agreement is especially important for Nike, the world's largest sportswear company, as it seeks to move on from the doping scandal that forced it to ditch the drug cheat Armstrong.

Nike is also a long-time sponsor of Woods, standing by the golfer in 2009 despite the bad publicity he suffered when a series of extra-marital affairs came to light.

A new TV commercial featuring the two golfers was shown for the first time at a news conference in Abu Dhabi where Nike officially confirmed it had recruited McIlroy – one of the worst kept secrets in sport.

"There is still some equity [value] in the Woods' brand. McIlroy, rather than being a replacement, is the heir apparent," said Simon Chadwick, professor of sport business strategy at Coventry University.

Herald Sport looks at some of the groundbreaking commercial contracts signed by sportsmen.

TIGER WOODS (golf)

McIlroy may have overtaken Woods as the game's current best golfer, but the American's commercial income is still vast. In 2000, Woods signed a new five-year deal with Nike believed to be worth £62m. Forbes estimated he made £44m in the 12 months between June 2002 and 2003 and, with his contract being linked to sales, they claim last year he earned £34m more in endorsement income than the top 10 golfers averaged over the past 12 months.

DAVID BECKHAM (football)

In 2003, the former England captain signed what Forbes described as the biggest commercial contract in sports history which – with a 50% payment up front, a percentage of profits from sportswear sales and promotional work – amounted to £100m.

LEBRON JAMES (basketball)

Before he had even played in the NBA, James secured the biggest basketball shoe deal ever in 2003 – a reported £56m seven-year contract with Nike. He signed a new deal in 2010 on similar terms.

GEORGE FOREMAN (boxing)

Foreman made a comfortable living in the ring in the 1970s but his income soared when he went into retirement. In 1999, the former heavyweight champion signed a deal with Salton to put his name to their grilling machine for a reported £85m. Prior to this deal the company was paying Foreman and his two partners 60% of profits from grill sales.

money men

GOLF World No.1 signs $250m 10-year deal

Although commercial terms were not disclosed, media reports say the agreement with the Northern Irishman is worth as much as $250m over 10 years, one of the most lucrative in global sports as Nike moves on after dropping disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong last year.

McIlroy was previously sponsored by golf brand Titleist and other golfers have struggled to replicate their earlier success after switching their equipment provider. However, McIlroy was full of confidence ahead of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship which starts on Thursday.

"The new driver I will play with this week is awesome," he told a news conference to announce his sponsorship. "As soon as I hit it, I knew it was going in the bag. I'm hitting it further – I thought I was hitting it far before, but this takes it to a new level."

The world No.1 visited Nike's research and development facility in Fort Worth, Texas, in late 2012 to try out his new clubs and balls and has continued to practise over Christmas and New Year. He said the sponsorship deal was about improving his game rather than personal riches.

"I play for titles, I don't play for money . . . If at the end of 2013 I haven't won a major, I will be disappointed," said McIlroy, adding the new Nike balls were more stable in the wind and he was now driving the ball at about 180 miles an hour.

Under the deal, McIlroy will use the company's clubs and balls and wear its clothing with the familiar swoosh logo.

McIlroy is part of a high-profile sporting couple with former world women's tennis No.1 Caroline Wozniacki.

The agreement with Nike has not been accepted by all of McIlroy's previous sponsors. Sunglasses maker Oakley has started legal action to try to retain its sponsorship deal with McIlroy, saying it had the right to match any improved agreement with another company.

The US PGA champion, topped the tournament earnings lists in both the USA and Europe last year and is seen as having supplanted Tiger Woods as the game's greatest talent.

The agreement is especially important for Nike, the world's largest sportswear company, as it seeks to move on from the doping scandal that forced it to ditch the drug cheat Armstrong.

Nike is also a long-time sponsor of Woods, standing by the golfer in 2009 despite the bad publicity he suffered when a series of extra-marital affairs came to light.

A new TV commercial featuring the two golfers was shown for the first time at a news conference in Abu Dhabi where Nike officially confirmed it had recruited McIlroy – one of the worst kept secrets in sport.

"There is still some equity [value] in the Woods' brand. McIlroy, rather than being a replacement, is the heir apparent," said Simon Chadwick, professor of sport business strategy at Coventry University.

Herald Sport looks at some of the groundbreaking commercial contracts signed by sportsmen.

TIGER WOODS (golf)

McIlroy may have overtaken Woods as the game's current best golfer, but the American's commercial income is still vast. In 2000, Woods signed a new five-year deal with Nike believed to be worth £62m. Forbes estimated he made £44m in the 12 months between June 2002 and 2003 and, with his contract being linked to sales, they claim last year he earned £34m more in endorsement income than the top 10 golfers averaged over the past 12 months.

DAVID BECKHAM (football)

In 2003, the former England captain signed what Forbes described as the biggest commercial contract in sports history which – with a 50% payment up front, a percentage of profits from sportswear sales and promotional work – amounted to £100m.

LEBRON JAMES (basketball)

Before he had even played in the NBA, James secured the biggest basketball shoe deal ever in 2003 – a reported £56m seven-year contract with Nike. He signed a new deal in 2010 on similar terms.

GEORGE FOREMAN (boxing)

Foreman made a comfortable living in the ring in the 1970s but his income soared when he went into retirement. In 1999, the former heavyweight champion signed a deal with Salton to put his name to their grilling machine for a reported £85m. Prior to this deal the company was paying Foreman and his two partners 60% of profits from grill sales.

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