Oldham Athletic will not make announcement about Ched Evans

League One club Oldham Athletic have said they will not be commenting on speculation that they could sign convicted rapist Ched Evans as furore continued to surround the situation.

After a day of strong reaction from club sponsors and public figures, the Latics released a statement.

"Oldham Athletic is not at this stage making any official announcement with regard to the speculation concerning Ched Evans," the statement, read to reporters outside their Boundary Park ground, said.

"Whilst acknowledging the considerable media attention, we continue to have conversations with representative bodies such as the PFA and will conduct due diligence with regard to any decision we make on this matter.

"We will not be making any further comment for the time being."

Earlier on Monday, a major Oldham sponsor said it would sever its ties with the club if they signed Evans.

On Sunday, it was reported that the Latics were set to announce the arrival of Evans at Boundary Park.

The news prompted Craig Verling, a director of stand sponsor Verlin Rainwater Solutions, to confirm that the company would end its involvement with the club if Evans joined.

With Oldham at that stage reported to be holding a board meeting to decide whether to pursue their interest in Evans, Verling told Press Association Sport: "The club know our stance -- and that is that if they sign or allow Ched Evans to train we will be out of the door.

"We had a conversation with the club when they considered allowing Ched Evans to train with them six to eight weeks ago, and we were led to believe they had listened to the general input.

"But our sources have made it clear he will be training or signing for the club this week, and that is not something we wish to be associated with."

However, another Oldham sponsor, CM Solicitors, which has its logo on the back of the players' shirts, said it would stick with the club even if they did sign the Welshman.

A spokesman told ITV News: "We will support the club whatever."

The Press Association reported that Evans was not part of a group that arrived at Boundary Park on Monday morning to make its way to the training ground.

More than 24,000 people had signed an online petition against Oldham signing Evans, who left prison in October after serving half his five-year sentence for raping a 19-year-old woman in a Welsh hotel room in May 2011, within 24 hours of it going online.

The petition, addressed to Oldham chairman Simon Corney, urges him to "please think again."

Evans has consistently maintained his innocence, and an investigation into his conviction by the Criminal Cases Review Commission is ongoing.

Oldham boss Lee Johnson said it would be a "board decision" if the club opted to bring in the striker.

In brief remarks outside Boundary Park - the first to be made by any club employee on the matter, he said: "I understand these are very difficult circumstances. I respect that for everyone.

"It's a board decision. Whatever the board decides, I will be a part of."

But Tony Lloyd, Greater Manchester's Police and Crime Commissioner, said Oldham would "send out entirely the wrong message" if they signed Evans.

In a statement on the force's website, he said: "Oldham Athletic Football Club should not sign Ched Evans.

"Ched Evans is a convicted rapist and, whilst I strongly believe in the principle of rehabilitation, it will send out entirely the wrong message if they offer him a contract.

"All offenders have the right to rebuild their lives and make amends after they have served their sentence, but Ched Evans' lack of remorse and failure to acknowledge his offence means it is simply inappropriate for him to be on a Greater Manchester football pitch week in and week out, presenting himself as some kind of role model, especially to young people."

The BBC reported Oldham East and Saddleworth MP Debbie Abrahams as saying she believed "it would be wrong for Ched Evans to return to playing football for Oldham Athletic FC, or any other club as he has been convicted of rape, a violent crime which he has neither apologised for nor acknowledged."