Tuesday 15 October 2019

Paddy Jackson paid off 'close to his contract value' in IRFU exit deal

  • Clubs in UK, France ready to sign ex-Ireland out-half

  • Olding: 'I am even more determined to prove myself'

Paddy Jackson has signed for Perpignan
Paddy Jackson has signed for Perpignan
Niamh Horan

Niamh Horan

The Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) has hammered out a "compromise agreement" with Paddy Jackson that means the player will walk away with a financial settlement "close to his contract value".

The Sunday Independent can reveal the details behind the deal that will see both Mr Jackson and Stuart Olding financially compensated before they leave to begin new careers abroad.

The Sunday Independent can also reveal that representatives for Mr Jackson will talk this week with a number of clubs who want to sign him.

A source close to Jackson revealed: "There are four or five clubs in France and the UK that have shown their interest. They are in the Premiership and Top 14 and there are varying degrees of interest. One or two want to be kept in the loop but talks will start in the next week, and two or three of the clubs are prepared to move quite quickly. There will be an announcement within the next week or so."

The IRFU's decision to revoke the players' contracts and pay off most of the remainder of their contracts is seen as a ''corporate clean-up'' exercise to restore the sport's reputation and the settlement is "about to be formalised".

A source close to the deal explained: "During the investigation the players met with IRFU bosses and were told that there would be a disciplinary process ahead. It was made clear that in the end they would most likely have their contracts terminated.

"If they had gone through that process, it would have taken weeks and all of the spots on teams in the UK and France would have been filled by the time it was all over.

"The players wanted nothing more than to continue playing for their country but faced with that prospect, both sides decided to spare themselves that and enter into a 'compromise agreement'. The lads felt it would avert the long and drawn-out disciplinary process that was likely to end only one way.

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"A mutual termination was agreed and a financial settlement was also agreed by both parties. The boys will forever be bound by a confidentiality clause, as will the IRFU on the financial side of it, but I can tell you that it is close to the contract value of the players."

The source explained: "It will cost the IRFU but it is the quickest and easiest way. The team has just won the Grand Slam which has brought with it significant financial rewards and Paddy and Stuart are very small cogs in that very big machine, so given the circumstances, it was the easiest way for everyone involved."

The Sunday Independent has previously revealed that Jackson and Olding were both on contracts with the organisation valued at between €100,000 and €300,000, with Olding paid less than Jackson.

Both men's contracts were signed only weeks before events at a party at Jackson's home in the early hours of June 28, 2016, and the contract of both players was due to run until the summer of 2019.

The source also added: "The primacy of the employment contract was with the IRFU, so this was not an Ulster Rugby decision. If it was, who knows what would have happened."

Speaking about Jackson and Olding's view of their future this weekend, the source said: "Both players are disappointed this weekend. This is a decision that is being forced upon them.

"This is not what they wanted. They went in there wanting to play rugby again for Ulster and Ireland but the reality is they now know they need to try and rebuild their lives and careers. Paddy is also burdened with significant debt so he has that to think about too.

"He is a well-capped goal kicking ten, he's also a very young lad, there will always be clubs pursuing that. Stuart may not be the same quality of player but there is interest there too."

Although rumours have linked Jackson with a move to Premiership champions Exeter Chiefs, the source has ruled that out.

As reported by the Sunday Independent's rugby writer Brendan Fanning on Friday night, the review following the Belfast rape trial concluded last Wednesday and the players were informed then of the decision.

While Mr Jackson (26) and Mr Olding (25) were found not guilty last month after a high-profile trial, other aspects of their behaviour have been heavily criticised, with two major sponsors of Ulster Rugby, Bank of Ireland and Kingspan, voicing concern.

Yesterday, Mr Jackson released a statement saying: "I am deeply disappointed about the outcome of the IRFU and Ulster Rugby's internal review.

"However, I recognise that my behaviour has fallen far short of the values expected of me as an international player, a role model for the game of rugby and as a son and a brother. I am truly sorry.

"Since I was a young boy it was my ambition to play for Ulster and Ireland and I am extremely proud, privileged and honoured to have done so. It is therefore with great sadness and regret but with many cherished memories that I leave that behind.

"I would like to thank everyone who has supported me throughout this process. I have taken great strength from that support. I'd also like to thank Ulster and Irish rugby for the opportunities that they provided for me and I wish them, and all my former team mates, every success.

"My focus in the months and years ahead will be on rebuilding the trust placed in me by people throughout Ulster and Ireland."

Stuart Olding also issued a statement expressing his regret. It said: "It is with regret that I have been informed that the IRFU have decided to revoke my contract.

"As I said outside court following my acquittal, I am and will always be fiercely proud of having played for my province and country. I very much wished to continue to have the opportunity to represent them.

"Regrettably, influences outside of my contractual arrangement have made it impossible for that to happen.

"I said outside court that the Stuart Olding that you read about in the trial is not the real Stuart Olding."

The IRFU also released a statement which read: "Following a review, conducted in the aftermath of recent court proceedings, the Irish Rugby Football Union and Ulster Rugby have revoked the contracts of Patrick Jackson and Stuart Olding with immediate effect. In arriving at this decision, the Irish Rugby Football Union and Ulster Rugby acknowledge our responsibility and commitment to the core values of the game: Respect, Inclusivity and Integrity.

"It has been agreed, as part of this commitment, to conduct an in-depth review of existing structures and educational programmes, within the game in Ireland, to ensure the importance of these core values is clearly understood, supported and practised at every level of the game."

Meanwhile, Rugby Players Ireland also released a statement saying they acknowledged yesterday's statements by the IRFU, Ulster Rugby, Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding. It read: "We too are committed to rugby's values of respect, integrity and inclusivity. Through our Player Development Programme we will work to ensure that these values are upheld throughout the rugby family both on and off the pitch. We will now take time to examine the way in which the review process was carried out by the IRFU."

Representatives of the players did not respond when contacted for a comment but an IRFU spokesman added "the substantive issue here is that the players contracts have been revoked with immediate effect, beyond that we have no further comment to make". and the IRFU did not respond when contacted for a comment this weekend.

Sunday Independent

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