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Ched Evans issues an apology as 'death threats' force Oldham to pull out of deal

The player maintained his innocence in a statement issued through the PFA this afternoon.

Image: Eamonn & James Clarke.

Updated 16.35pm

OLDHAM ATHLETIC HAVE decided against offering convicted rapist Ched Evans a route back into football after members of the club’s staff received sickening threats.

The League One club had been in talks with the Welsh striker for the last few days but the reported two-and-a-half year deal has fallen through, as confirmed by Oldham’s chief executive Neil Joy.

Evans released a statement through the Professional Footballers’ Association this afternoon and said:

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.

In a media briefing outside the club’s Boundary Park ground, Joy confirmed club staff and sponsors had received death threats since it was announced earlier in the week they were in talks to sign Evans.

A senior figure within the club told the BBC that a fan had told a club director they knew where their daughter worked and that she would be raped if the club followed through with the move.

Reports surfaced on Wednesday that the 26-year-old was edging closer to signing a two-and-a-half year contract at Boundary Park after agreeing personal terms with the third tier side.

Oldham chairman Simon Corney had said Evans ‘deserves a second chance’ and the club’s board were ‘unanimous’ in endorsing a move.

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Since then, however, Oldham have been the subject of an intense backlash from fans, sponsors and the media and a statement published on the club’s website confirmed the Latics would not be signing Evans due to the ‘unbearable pressure’ the club found itself under.

“The whole issue has divided opinion and the Club has been put under unbearable pressure as a result,” it read.

“Proceeding could have placed significant financial pressure on the Club and continued to be a divisive influence. As a consequence the deal could not go ahead.

“As a Club we condemn all crime including rape and irrespective of any appeal procedure it was always the case that we were prepared to withstand the barrage of abuse that is evident within the country and on social media.”

More than 70,000 people signed an online petition urging Oldham not to sign Evans while campaigners and prominent politicians waded into the debate, voicing their opposition to the deal.

Ched Evans decision Evans previously played for Manchester City and Sheffield United Source: PA Wire/Press Association Images

The club’s main sponsor, ZenOffice, threatened to end their association with the club if the deal went through while another partner, Verlin Rainwater Solutions, severed its ties with Oldham yesterday.

The PFA have insisted they were not ‘driving’ any deal and say they are behind any club that decide to sign the player.

It is the second time since his release from prison that a club have pulled out of signing Evans at the last minute.

His former club Sheffield United allowed him to train with them before Christmas but were forced to sever ties with Evans after a backlash from supporters, sponsors and club patrons, including Olympian Jessica Ennis-Hill.

There were reports earlier in the week that a Maltese Club, Hibernian FC, were willing to offer Evans a contract but the UK Ministry of Justice intervened as the convicted sex offender is barred from working abroad.

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Oldham thanked Evans and his representatives for the ‘professionalism’ they showed at all times during the ‘difficult period’.

Statement from the PFA and Ched Evans

The PFA wishes to clarify its position regarding Ched Evans following recent media reports.Our previous statements are set out below and our support for Ched remains the same.We have had some discussions with Oldham Athletic regarding the interest they expressed in signing Ched, although we feel it is important to make clear that, contrary to what has been reported, we were not ‘driving’ any deal. As we understand it, the club and player were in discussions and contact was then made with the PFA as matters progressed given the particular circumstances of this situation and we were simply being asked to publicly reiterate our support for the club in signing him. Despite being ready to offer this from the outset, we were asked to delay whilst discussions between the club and player continued, and we were disappointed to see over the course of this week, comments being made which we feel mischaracterise our limited role in this matter.The PFA’s position remains the same, as we have expressed previously, that any club which decides to sign him would receive our support.We fully recognise that this is a delicate and emotive case and entirely respect that there are opposing views. However, we always felt it was important that Ched made some further comment regarding his current situation and on that basis, he has asked that we include his comments below:

“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.”

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