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Brewing giant severs Irish ties

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Brewing giant severs ties with London Irish over Paddy Jackson signing

Diageo have ended their sponsorship of London Irish following the club’s controversial decision last month to sign former Ulster and Ireland star Paddy Jackson.

It had been reported at the start of the week that the brewing giant felt the presence of Jackson on the Premiership club’s roster was a concern.

In a statement on Monday to the Irish Daily Mail, the sponsor said: “We are meeting the club this week to discuss our serious concerns regarding their decision, which is not consistent with our values.”

That meeting has now resulted in the termination of the association Guinness have had with London Irish for almost 30 years.

Their association started in 1992, but allegations that its parent company Diageo had “serious concerns” about Jackson joining the club for next season’s Premiership campaign following a one-year stint in France have resulted in a parting of the ways.

In a statement, a Diageo spokesperson 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.”

Jackson was signed by Declan Kidney, the former Ireland coach who handed the out-half his Test debut in 2013.

The club felt at the time of that announcement that it would cope with any negative publicity that his signing would generate, but Diageo are now the second sponsor to cut its ties with them after Cash Converters recently opted out.

The controversy surrounding Jackson dates back to him having his contract dramatically torn up by the IRFU in 2018.

Along with Ulster team-mate Stuart Olding, who is now at Brive, Jackson was found not guilty of rape at a trial in Belfast last year.

However, the IRFU took exception to a series of WhatsApp messages that came to light during the court trial and they axed the pair, forcing them to head to France to continue their playing careers.

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Brewing giant severs ties with London Irish over Paddy Jackson signing