Coldplay counter-sue former manager Dave Holmes for over £14million

Coldplay are counter-suing their former manager, Dave Holmes, just under two months after he sued them over a contractual dispute.

According to The Times, the band claim Holmes owes them damages of over £14million and allege that he took out two loans from Live Nation that they had no knowledge of.

They claim that Holmes borrowed $20million (£16.3million) from the promoter in 2015 at an interest rate of 2.72 per cent a year before allegedly taking out a second loan of $10million in 2018 (£8.1million) at the same interest rate.


“To the best of [our] knowledge . . . Mr Holmes used monies obtained by the loan agreements to fund a property development venture in or around Vancouver, Canada,” say the band in their filing at the High Court in London. They add that they believe this Vancouver deal was “profitable”.

“It is to be inferred,” continues the claim, “that Mr Holmes was only able to acquire loans totalling $30 million at a fixed annual interest rate of 2.72 per cent from Live Nation by virtue of his position as Coldplay’s manager.”

The filing goes on to mention that Holmes owing $27.1million to Live Nation would have “potentially or actually [conflicted]” with his obligations to secure the best possible relations with the promoter when he was negotiating with them over Coldplay’s 2021 ‘Music Of The Spheres’ world tour.

It adds that Holmes had a “personal interest in maintaining the best possible relations with Live Nation in order to ensure he would have leverage in the event that he required any form of indulgence by reference to the loan terms”.

Live Nation said in a statement that it “has a strong and longstanding relationship with Coldplay”. It added: “Any past dealings with their management team were considered an extension of this relationship.”

In addition, the filing mentions that Coldplay lay the blame for mistakes worth millions of pounds on the ‘Music Of The Spheres’ tour with Holmes, given that they claim he had “ultimate responsibility” for the 165-date world tour.

Coldplay's Music Of The Spheres tour
Coldplay’s Music Of The Spheres tour. Credit: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Getty

The band claim that, just before the tour started, costs “escalated rapidly” and they bore the brunt. In addition, some equipment bought was either not suitable or was purchased at an elevated cost – for example, “16 bespoke stage pylons” for lighting and video, costing 10.6million Euro (£9.1million), that it allegedly became apparent were unjustifiably expensive to use.

Meanwhile, a “visual project known as Jet Screen” was commissioned for $9.7million (£7.9million) and the band claim a large portion of that cost was personally authorised by Holmes. However, the dimensions given to the manufacturers were wrong and the screen was too big, meaning it was subsequently only used for 10 shows in Buenos Aires.

Holmes is also accused in the filing of not opening “the shared online Dropbox which contained the designs for the ‘Music of the Spheres’ Tour at any time between August 2020 and February 2022”.

Ultimately, the band accuse Holmes of “failing adequately to supervise and control the tour budget at all times”. If he had allegedly “exercised reasonable care and skill in the performance of his obligations”, the band wouldn’t have incurred at least £17.5million in extra costs.

Holmes began working with Coldplay in 2005 and parted ways with the band last year. In his original lawsuit, he claimed he helped organise recording sessions, samples and string arrangements for the group’s as yet unreleased tenth and eleventh albums and the band refused to pay him.

Phil Sherrell, Holmes’s lawyer, told Variety: “Holmes successfully managed Coldplay for more than 22 years, steering them to be one of the most successful bands in history. Now Coldplay is refusing to pay him what he is owed.”

The band deny Holmes’s claim “in its entirety” and their counterclaim says they did not extend his management agreement “following a period of increasing concern regarding Mr Holmes’s conduct”. It adds that negotiations over a contract for their forthcoming albums broke down.

Asked about the counterclaim this weekend, a spokesman for Holmes said: “Coldplay know they are in trouble with their defence. Accusing Dave Holmes of non-existent ethical lapses and other made-up misconduct will not deflect from the real issue at hand — Coldplay had a contract with Dave, they are refusing to honour it and they need to pay Dave what they owe him”.

Holmes is now obliged to respond to the counterclaim at the court. If the two parties don’t settle, the case could go to trial.