Belfast Telegraph

London Irish lose Guinness sponsorship over Paddy Jackson signing

Former Ulster fly-half Paddy Jackson
Former Ulster fly-half Paddy Jackson
Mark Edwards

By Mark Edwards

Diageo, owners of Guinness, has cancelled its sponsorship of London Irish Rugby Club over the signing of former Ulster star Paddy Jackson.

The drinks company has been synonymous with the club after a near three-decade association.

The newly-promoted Premiership club last month announced the signing of the ex-Ireland international, who, along with his then Ulster and Ireland team-mate Stuart Olding, was found not guilty of rape at a trial in Belfast in 2018.

In a statement to The Irish Times, a Diageo spokesman said: "We have met with the club to express our concerns. Their recent decision is not consistent with our values and so we have ended our sponsorship."

Earlier this week, Diageo said it had "serious concerns" regarding the decision to sign Paddy Jackson.

A London Irish spokesman told the Belfast Telegraph: "London Irish’s management is understandably disappointed that Diageo has chosen not to renew its sponsorship agreement with the club, and particularly the manner in which the company has chosen to do so.

"The club has always respected the right for everyone to have an opinion, and their right to express that opinion.

"London Irish has been open and honest with all of its sponsors, including offering to meet Diageo’s senior management in Dublin in May, 2019. This offer was not taken up.

"London Irish will be moving on without the support of Diageo, who have chosen to stand down after a nearly 30 year association with the club. It is regretful that this relationship has ended in the manner that it has.

"The club will make no further statement at this time."

Last week, London Irish said Cash Converters' decision to discontinue its association with the club was not related to Jackson's signing.

Cash Converters responded to a number of tweets about the club's decision to bring in the fly-half, saying it had decided- after a thorough review- to discontinue its association with the club.

"The club would like to clarify that the decision to part ways at the end of 2018/19 season was made before the announcement of player signings in May 2019, and for reasons unrelated to player signings," a club statement read.

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