Oldham bow to pressure and drop Evans signing

Oldham’s plan to sign up convicted rapist Ched Evans collapsed Thursday after sponsors said they would withdraw funding and staff and their families were threatened, the BBC reported.

Sources close to the negotiations confirmed that Oldham had decided against the move to sign the former Manchester City and Sheffield United striker, who has always denied the crime he was convicted of.

The BBC quoted an unnamed Oldham board member as saying the deal had been called off due to “enormous pressure from sponsors and threats to staff and their families”.

Third division Oldham had been in talks over a deal to sign the 26-year-old Welshman, who was released from jail last October after serving half of a five-year prison sentence for rape.

British media reports claimed that Evans had agreed personal terms with Oldham, who are currently in 14th place in League One.

Oldham owner Lee Corney had told the Jewish Chronicle that there was an “80 percent chance” of Oldham signing Evans on Tuesday.

News of Oldham’s interest in Evans though sparked local outcry, with over 65,000 people signing a petition against the move.

“We believe he has served his time. There is an 80 percent chance of us signing him,” said Corney, a British businessman who is based in New York, in an article published on the newspaper’s website.

Oldham’s sponsor Verlin Rainwater Solutions threatened to end its involvement with them if they signed him.

An Oldham spokesman said a statement was being prepared.

Evans, meanwhile, issued a “wholehearted apology” for the effects of his actions in 2011 but once again maintained his innocence over his rape conviction

It will be the second time the club have pulled out of a deal to sign the striker, whose chances of finding a club willing to take him on now appear limited.

Sheffield United also decided against giving him a second chance after initially letting him train with the club.

They withdrew their offer in November after 165,000 people signed a petition against the convicted rapist.

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