Sale sponsor denies raising objections to move for Jackson and Olding
A lead sponsor of rugby club Sale Sharks has spoken to the club's boss over any potential move for Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding after they were linked with the shamed players.
The move comes after the English Premiership club moved to distance itself from links to the former Ulster Rugby pair.
It's understood that Andy Bell - co-founder of AJ Bell, who is Sale's stadium sponsor - has been in touch with director of rugby Steve Diamond since reports circulated about a possible move for the two players.
The pair were sacked by the IRFU and Ulster Rugby last month after details of misogynistic messages were revealed during a rape trial earlier this year.
While both players were cleared of all charges following the high-profile case in Belfast, they were let go following an internal review by the IRFU and Ulster Rugby.
A number of clubs in both England and France have since distanced themselves from both players.
AJ Bell said that while it is true Mr Bell spoke with Mr Diamond on the matter, the company did not raise concerns or objections about a potential signing.
In a statement to the Irish Independent last night, the company said: "Sale Sharks are very aware of the strong values engrained within our business, many of which are shared by the club and their supporters," it read.
"We have total faith in Steve Diamond and the owners to reflect these values whilst they are stewards of the club."
On Wednesday the club released a statement distancing itself from the players and saying there was no substance to the rumour.
"Sale Sharks can confirm there is no substance to the rumours circulating in relation to the signing of the two international rugby players Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding," the Greater Manchester club said.
"Our search continues for top-class players to bolster the squad for next season."
Some of the club's fans also launched a petition to not have the players at the club, on website Change.org earlier this week. Last month, French rugby club Clermont Auvergne also ruled itself out of the running for Jackson.
Following speculation that the club was Jackson's most likely destination, they dismissed any potential move in a statement on their website. "The Irish out-half will not come," head coach Frank Azéma said. "There is no contact between Paddy Jackson and the club and no desire on our part to engage his services."
Exeter Chiefs also denied any interest.