LONDON: Oldham Athletic’s proposed signing of convicted rapist Ched Evans has been cancelled after a week’s uncertainty.
Oldham were reportedly ready to sign Evans after canvassing opinion among fans and sponsors before the club’s main sponsor ZenOffice threatened to pull out amid reports the 26-year-old had already agreed personal terms and could be in the squad for Saturday’s game against Doncaster.
The football club came under increasing pressure to turn its back on Evans with tens of thousands of people signing an online petition and local police and politicians voicing their concerns.
The Wales international has been unable to find a team since being released from prison in October after serving half of a five-year sentence for rape.
Almost three months after his release from prison on licence, Evans issued a generalised statement of regret through the players’ union, the Professional Footballers’ Association.
Evans said: “I am grateful for the support of the PFA in helping me try to return to football and continue my career.
“Upon legal advice, I was told not to discuss the events in question. This silence has been misinterpreted as arrogance and I would like to state that this could not be further from the truth.
“I do remain limited at present by what I can say due to the ongoing referral to the Criminal Cases Review Commission and whilst I continue to maintain my innocence, I wish to make it clear that I wholeheartedly apologise for the effects that night in Rhyl has had on many people, not least the woman concerned.
“Finally, it has been claimed that those using social media in an abusive and vindictive way towards this woman are supporters of mine. I wish to make it clear that these people are not my supporters and I condemn their actions entirely and will continue to do so.”