UK insurance brand Gallagher has clung on to its title sponsorship of Premiership Rugby, after apologising for a racist rant from its chief executive.
Last week, it was revealed during a high court tribunal that Simon Matson, chief executive of AJ Gallagher International, had used racist language to describe a departing employee.
The court case was brought by Gallagher against rival Ardonagh, which it accused of orchestrating a “carefully planned conspiracy” to poach several staff illegally.
But during the hearing, it emerged that Matson had referred to departing staff member Nawaf Hasan as a “complicated fat Arab” in an exchange on WhatsApp.
The court also heard that Gary Lashmar, chief operating officer at AJ Gallagher, responded: “And a very greedy one at that.”
Last week, Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable – whose Twickenham constituency includes the England rugby stadium – wrote to Premiership Rugby urging it to reconsider its title deal with Gallagher.
“Such awful words from the chief executive of Premiership Rugby’s biggest and most prominent sponsor can only inflict damage on the sport,” said Cable.
“This disgraceful culture should have been kicked out of Britain’s boardrooms decades ago, and it is not Premiership Rugby’s fault that it has found itself in this situation.”
But this week, Premiership Rugby confirmed in a statement that it will continue its association with Gallagher, after an apology from Matson and Lashmar.
“We agree that there is no place for discriminatory language of any kind in sport or in business, and this is a viewpoint shared by Gallagher,” the statement read.
“The messages which have been made public through the trial proceedings pre-date our relationship with Gallagher, but we know the individuals involved have expressed their deep regret and apologised for the choice of language and the offence this has caused.
“We are confident that this incident does not represent the company’s or leadership’s beliefs or culture and will not impact our future relationship with them.”
Gallagher has been the title sponsor of Premiership Rugby since 2018, when it took over from rival UK insurance brand Aviva. Gallagher is reportedly paying £40m over four years as for the title rights.