OLDHAM Athletic’s co-owner has confirmed the club are close to clinching the signing of convicted rapist Ched Evans but said he hoped critics of the controversial move would “keep their views in check”.
Two sponsors are to cut ties with the third tier side if they sign former Wales striker Evans, 26, while Labour’s shadow sports minister Clive Efford MP last night called on football chiefs to veto the move.
Evans was released from prison in October having served half of a five-year sentence for raping a 19-year-old woman in 2011 – a conviction he is continuing to challenge.
“We believe he has served his time,” Oldham chairman Simon Corney told the Jewish Chronicle, adding that there was an “80 per cent chance” of completing the deal.
“I completely understand people’s views and I respect them. I would never tell people they are wrong to have their own views. But we want people to keep them in check. I hope people don’t get too carried away and it doesn’t get too hot.”
Gutter maker Verlin has ended its sponsorship after being informed of Evans’ imminent signing. ZenOffice has vowed to follow suit and 60,000 people have signed a petition urging Oldham to withdraw from talks.
Corney added: “There might be a cost implication, but you have to stick to your principles. We weren’t surprised by the backlash.”
Efford yesterday wrote to Football Association chairman Greg Dyke asking him to refuse any attempt by the League One club to register Evans’s signing, arguing: “I believe the FA has failed to appreciate the seriousness of the crime.”