Ched Evans apologises as proposed transfer to Oldham falls through

Ched Evans has issued a "wholehearted apology" for the effects of his actions in 2011 but continues to maintain his innocence over his rape conviction, with his proposed signing for Oldham having fallen through due to the uproar that has surrounded the negotiations.

The League One club have decided against the move, they announced on Thursday.

"It has been widely reported that Oldham Athletic will not be signing Ched Evans, which we can now confirm. The whole issue has divided opinion and the Club has been put under unbearable pressure as a result," a club statement 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."

It comes just a day after Oldham's joint owner Simon Corney said there was an "80 percent" chance of Evans, 26, being signed.

Evans said in a statement released via the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA): "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."

The PFA added: "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."

Oldham and their supporters trust reported threats to their staff from social media, but Greater Manchester Police downplayed their impact.

"Greater Manchester Police would like to make it explicitly clear it is not currently investigating reports of either death threats or threats of a sexual nature made to anyone associated with Oldham Athletic FC," a statement said.

Jim McMahon, the leader of Oldham council, confirmed the deal was off and said the issue had caused "intimidation, abuse and harassment."

McMahon said in a statement: "I understand Oldham Athletic's move to sign Ched Evans is off. I've always believed in rehabilitation but felt that both club and player should have allowed Mr Evans' appeal to run its course before agreeing a contract. As it stands, Mr Evans has been found guilty in a court of law and has not yet completed his sentence.

"However, I take no pleasure in this outcome. The whole episode has divided the town and public opinion and there are no winners in all this -- not least of all the reputation of our club and town.

"In recent days we've seen an horrendous 'trial by social media' with intimidation, abuse and harassment on a scale that has cast a terrible shadow. I am urging people on all sides of this debate to please now take stock, show some restraint and calm.

"We want to see Oldham Athletic prosper and that's why we backed plans to redevelop Boundary Park to secure a positive future.

"I also believe that Simon Corney has the best intentions and ambitions for the club as its owner. I hope he and other board members now take stock and consider the wider interests of the club as a part of the community and as an ambassador for Oldham.''

Evans was released from prison last October, halfway through a five-year sentence for raping a 19-year-old woman.

Corney believes Evans "has served his time" and said the decision to give the player a chance had been agreed unanimously by all six members of the Oldham board -- despite vociferous opposition and sponsors severing ties with the club.

Oldham have yet to officially confirm their decision but a spokesman said a statement was being prepared.

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

Sheffield United also decided against giving him a contract after initially agreeing to let him train with the club.

Gordon Taylor, chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association, added: "It's not been good for all parties. It's very disappointing this has happened but it's what we feared.''

Taylor told BBC Radio 5 Live it was difficult for any club to consider taking on Evans.

He said: "Nobody has ever suggested this is going to be easy and now this is another step backwards. As I say with all these cases, nobody has won and everybody has suffered and there needs to be a support programme for all involved. At the moment clearly any club wishing to take him is aware that this could well be a toxic issue and will need to have a very serious rethink."

Asked whether he was aware of any other clubs willing to take Evans, Taylor said: "No, I am not. He's a footballer and he's been with different clubs and he's been out of the game for two-and-a-half years and it's not easy to come back. Even if you were injured for that length of time it would be extremely difficult.

"This is a very long, hard process and whether it happens will remain to be seen. He will need to show a very strong constitution and belief in his ability but also of course be mindful of what has happened, and I think today with that statement he's made is the beginning of trying to move forward progressively."