A sponsor has confirmed that they contacted Sale Sharks to 'discuss the uncertainty' surrounding speculation that the club may sign Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding.
On Wednesday, the Aviva Premiership club announced they will not be signing Jackson and Olding.
“We can confirm there is no substance to the rumours currently circulating in relation to the signing of the two international rugby players Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding,” Sale’s statement read.
“Our search continues for top-class players to bolster the squad for next season.”
The Ulster and Ireland backs were acquitted of rape in March but had their contracts terminated after other aspects of their behaviour that came to light during the trial were heavily criticised. It is understood that Sale explored the possibility of taking Jackson and Olding to the AJ Bell Stadium for next season only for the club’s hierarchy to decide against it.
Opposition to the signings among swathes of Sharks supporters had grown since news of the club’s interest surfaced on Tuesday and included the creation of a petition on Facebook, notification of which was posted on the club’s website.
It was reported by the BBC that investment firm AJ Bell, who are the naming rights partner for Sale's stadium, aired their concerns over the rumours to director of rugby Steve Diamond.
However, they denied that they objected to the move, saying: "We contacted the club to discuss the uncertainty created by the rumours. No more than that.
"It is totally wrong to say we objected to the move."
While Jackson, 26, and Olding, 25, were found not guilty after a high-profile trial, major sponsors of Ulster Rugby voiced concern over their conduct.
The review conducted by club and country had focused on a series of sexually explicit WhatsApp conversations involving the players and their friends about the sexual encounter at the centre of the rape trial.
The messages, which referred to women in derogatory terms, were presented as evidence during the marathon nine-week trial at Belfast Crown Court.