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Martins 'too busy' to chase up cash; Ex-Toon star speaks in court case.

Byline: TOM MULLEN

FORMER Toon striker Obafemi Martins was too busy playing football to chase the club for the pounds 450,000 a year they owed him for his image rights, a court heard.

The Nigerian international said that back in 2007 he banked his pounds 239,224 a month salary but never got around to collecting bonuses for his image rights - or any of the money for sponsorship deals he had signed up to, boosting his earnings to pounds 3.3m a year. Martins, pictured, now plays for German Bundesliga club Wolfsburg after being sold by Newcastle for pounds 9m following their relegation from the Premiership.

He was giving evidence at the High Court in London on the second day of a pounds 300,000 claim against him by management company NVA for the work they did to bring in the cash for Martins.

The 25-year-old was sponsored by Pepsi, Nike, Peak Milk, and mobile phone company Vixen.

Martins told Judge Richard Seymour QC: "I was busy playing football and did not go to them and ask for my money." He said Chris Nathaniel, director of NVA, then came into his life and said he would get the money for him.

The deals were already all in place and the money was there for him - he just never got round to asking for it, he added. Martins said taking over Newcastle legend Alan Shearer's number nine shirt was "very important" for him and "I just wanted to play football."

He said football was "my life and I am good at it and people love me for what I am doing."

If he needed more money he could ask friends to get it for him, and he said he never asked Mr Nathaniel to do these things for him but he had done so anyway and Martins had paid him.

But NVA claim that under the deal he signed with them in July 2007 he still owes them around pounds 300,000.

The court heard that someone from NVA travelled to Nigeria to pick up 30,000 US dollars in cash from Pepsi, and when they gave it to Martins he handed back 10,000 dollars to NVA.

The company also claims it got Newcastle to pay the pounds 450,000 a year promised for image rights and chased up all the other sponsorship deals.

The court heard they got him $50,000 from Peak Milk plus 16 cartons of milk four times a year, 200,000 euros from Nike plus 5,000 euros of Nike kit a year, $60,000 a year from Pepsi, plus "reasonable supplies of Pepsi", and $100,000 dollars from Vixen plus two mobile phone packs.

Robert Temmink, for NVA, said until the company came on the scene Martins was only getting his basic money from Newcastle. He claims the footballer asked them to obtain the rest of his money.

Martins said: "I did not ask for it because I did not have the time. But it was all there for me."

The striker says he paid the company what he owes and is fighting the claim.

The hearing continues.
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Nov 21, 2009
Words:525
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