Oldham Athletic have dramatically had a rethink in their bid to sign Ched Evans after a furious backlash according to report.
The League One side are believed to have shelved plans to offer the Welshman a way back into football after his release from prison in October. An online petition criticising the move attracted around 2,000 signatures each hour since news broke Sunday claiming that Evans, 26, was set to return to the game with the Latics.
Evans was due at training Monday after talks with the players’ union PFA and Evans’ representatives, but The Sun today claims the club have cancelled the move.
Evans was released after serving half of a five-year sentence for the rape of a 19-year-old woman in a hotel from prison and still protests his innocence.
The PFA says Evans has served his sentence and he deserves the chance to resume his career following his release from prison.
But fans and women’s groups say he should not return to such a high-profile role within the game. Evans had an offer to train with his former club Sheffield United withdrawn following a backlash from Blades supporters, sponsors and patrons opposed to his return – 160,000 people signed a petition against it and the club withdrew the offer.
Other clubs including Tranmere and Hartlepool also rejected the opportunity to sign him and a recently touted move abroad to Maltese club Hibernians appeared to have floundered due to rules on convicted sex offenders and their probation regime.
Evans, who previously played for Manchester City, was jailed in April 2012 for raping a woman in a hotel room in Rhyl, north Wales. The player denied the offence, saying the sex was consensual, but he was found guilty by a jury at Caernarfon Crown Court.