Diageo, the legendary company behind Guinness, has officially cancelled its sponsorship of London Irish Rugby Club over their choice to sign former Ulster and Ireland out-half Paddy Jackson.
We all remember the rugby star after the infamous and harrowing Belfast rape trial of last year, where he was acquitted. Three other men who had been charged in relation to the incident were also acquitted.
Stuart Olding and Jackson both had their contacts cancelled in the wake of the trial, after their Whatsapp messages showed vile, misogynistic language about women involved in allegedly consensual sex acts with them.
Seeing as London Irish markets themselves as a family club, we're not surprised fans were angry when a man who discusses 'spit roasts' and says phrases like, "Any sluts get f*cked?" was signed on to play for them.
In a statement to The Irish Times, Diageo 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.”
Diageo had recently said that it had "serious concerns" regarding Jackson's signing, but failed to reference the sponsorship deal, which has been in place for 27 years.
Another London Irish sponsor, Cash Converters, terminated its relationship with the club. On Twitter, the company said; “As a company, we are committed to the highest possible standards when it comes to our investments in any sponsorships and collaborations.
"As a result of a detailed and thorough review of our support for London Irish, we have decided to discontinue our association with the club.”
Last night, London Irish said its 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,” the statement said.
“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.”
The management also said the club would move 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 statement said. Declan Kidney, head coach at London Irish and former Ireland coach, signed Paddy Jackson and defended the decision last year;
“We are fully aware that there was a court case that Paddy was involved in but that has been dealt with. What has gone on in the past had gone on in the past and we are just trying to move on to the future."
Feature image: Instagram/@glenmoremanor