Sale Sharks: Sponsor opposed Jackson and Olding deals

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Image caption Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding are both out of contract

One of Sale Sharks' main sponsors raised concerns with the club about the reported interest in signing Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding.

Investment firm AJ Bell, the naming rights partner for Sale's stadium, said it had told director of rugby Steve Diamond of its concerns.

Sale have dismissed reports they were in advanced negotiations with the former Ireland and Ulster players.

The pair were cleared of rape after a nine-week trial.

But there was controversy over social media and WhatsApp messages they had exchanged and their contracts were later revoked by Ulster and the Irish Rugby Football Union

The BBC has learned that AJ Bell co-founder Andy Bell spoke directly with Diamond to discuss the company's concerns.

In a statement, Mr Bell 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.

"We have total faith in Steve Diamond and the owners to reflect these values whilst they are stewards of the club."