Oldham Athletic have confirmed they will not be signing convicted rapist Ched Evans.
Thursday’s dramatic change in events came after a director at the club told Sky News the deal was off after threats were made against board members & families, although Greater Manchester Police claim they haven’t been made aware of any threats made.
Simon Corney, Athletic’s Jewish owner and chairman, hinted yesterday that the signing was imminent, with the club set to offer the 26-year-old Welsh international, who was released from prison in October having served half of a five-year sentence for raping a woman in Wales, a two-and-a-half year deal.
Corney, who bought the club back in 2004, and became chairman in 2010, had earlier been reported as saying he believed Evans had the right to play professional football again. confirmed the impending signing after the club’s board released a statement which said: “There is a will to get this done. We believe it’s the right thing to do but there are still issues. We want to continue to work with the PFA on this.”
The proposed signing has resulted in widespread opposition and condemnation, with Naomi Dickson, Executive Director of Jewish Women’s Aid, the latest to comment on the controversial signing. She said: “Oldham needs to take responsibility for their response to the Ched Evans case.
“While we support the principle of rehabilitating offenders, and encouraging those who have served their time to reintegrate back into society, an important element of rehabilitation is remorse and taking responsibility, which has not happened in this situation.
“Oldham is supported by a wide range of people including many boys and young men to whom Evans will be a role model.
“Football clubs play an important role in British society, and they should respond appropriately to the sexist attitudes that underpin the abuse of women and girls that are used to excuse crimes such as the rape committed by Ched Evans.”
The club initially faced criticism after it was revealed they held lengthy talks with both the player’s representatives and the Professional Football Association at the weekend. A deal was set to go ahead on Monday only for it to stall due to the huge sway in public opposition.
Oldham and the PFA had then been expected to make a joint statement on Evans on Tuesday, though that statement was then delayed over issues that needed to be settled.Among those questioning the transfer, was Prime Minister David Cameron, who said he expected any football club considering hiring Evans to think carefully, Labour leader Ed Miliband said: “He hasn’t shown remorse and I wouldn’t take him on.”
More than 62,000 people signed an online petition calling on the club not to go through with the transfer, while several of the club’s sponsors said they would withdraw their support for the club.
However, a counter-petition, saying Evans deserves a second chance has attracted 2,000 signatures, while other sponsors at the club have said they will stand by the club and should give him a second chance.