Federer chasing McIlroy?
Rory McIlroy and Roger Federer at an ATP event in Cincinnati last year.

Rory McIlroy and Roger Federer at an ATP event in Cincinnati last year.

Roger Federer has set up his own management firm with longtime agent Tony Godsick. According to The New York Times, the Swiss star is “particularly interested in signing a leading golfer in the near term.” Could he be chasing Rory McIlroy?

With McIlroy declaring that Federer is a role model for him having rubbed shoulders with the former world No 1 through his relationship with Caroline Wozniacki, it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that they might hook up, especially in the light of his recent split from boutique Dublin agency Horizon Sports Management.

The recently-formed Rory McIlroy Inc could still remain as the umbrella organisation for all things Rory-related with Federer’s man doing some of the heavy lifting.

According to The New York Times Federer and Godsick have teamed up with two American investors to form an agency called Team8 and already signed world No 5 tennis star Juan Martín del Potro of Argentina.

“We’re trying to be a boutique agency that will manage just a small stable of iconic athletes,” Godsick said in a telephone interview from the firm’s new offices in Pepper Pike, Ohio, in Cleveland’s eastern suburbs. “We’re really going to try to be selective here. Some of the other groups, they look to sign as many players as they can and hope a few of them stick and make it, and they really go after the juniors. We’re not going to.”

Godsick said that Team8 was also interested in acquiring or creating events and in representing athletes in sports other than tennis, as well as entertainers. He said that Federer, who is training hard and testing new rackets in Dubai after a difficult season in which he dropped to No. 7 in the rankings, would be a client and not an active partner for now. But Godsick said the agency had been created in part to give Federer a platform when he retires.

“I can sell Roger Federer really well, but nobody sells Roger better than Roger,” Godsick said. “I always joke with him, ‘Look, you’ve been really successful on the tennis court, but I promise you, you’ll be more successful when you’re done playing tennis.’ ”

…. Forbes reported that Federer was the second-highest-paid athlete last year, at $71.5 million, behind Tiger Woods. Godsick and Federer’s move comes as IMG is on the verge of being sold. It also comes as Federer’s longtime rival Rafael Nadal has left IMG with his agent, Carlos Costa, and as Costa has reportedly expressed interest in signing a promising 17-year-old Chilean player, Christian Garin, to a management contract.

There isn’t a sports management agency in the world that would not want a slice of McIlroy over the next 25 years, especially when he’s an athlete predicted to generate several hundred million dollars in income, providing nothing out of the ordinary happens.

Big name agencies such as Creative Artists Agency (CAA), Lagardère Group or IMG would all jump at the chance to get their hands on the Holywood star, as would Excel Sports Management, which manages Tiger Woods and other top US stars.

McIlroy has already confessed that Federer is a role model for him as Karen Crouse reported in The New York Times in March:

McIlroy’s idol when he was growing up was Woods. But brand-wise, he aspires to be like another Nike endorser, the tennis superstar Roger Federer, who has become a symbol of grace and good taste. McIlroy said he discussed the business side of sports with Federer over dinner in December while in Brazil to watch his girlfriend, the tennis star Caroline Wozniacki. Before completing the deal with Omega, McIlroy spoke for 45 minutes with Federer, a 17-time major singles champion. “He’s a role model, someone I can pattern myself after,” McIlroy said.