UK

Ched Evans Apologises To 'Woman Concerned' But Maintains Innocence Over Rape

08/01/2015 13:43 GMT | Updated 08/01/2015 16:59 GMT

Convicted rapist Ched Evans has issued an apology on the day it emerged Oldham Athletic has dropped its plans to sign him.

The club pulled out of the proposed deal at the 11th hour after a string of backers threatened to cut ties.

The BBC reports a board member said the decision was also taken following threats to the club's staff and families.

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Convicted rapist Chedwin Evans

On Thursday afternoon, Evans released a statement via the Professional Football Association (PFA). it said:

“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 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.”

Karl Massey, the wealthy father of Evans's fiancee Natasha Massey had reportedly offered financial backing to the club if any of its sponsors withdrew in protest.

Evans was reportedly set to be handed a two-and-a-half year contract with the League One football team on Thursday, despite 69,000 people signing a petition against the move.

The footballer, who went to prison after being found guilty of raping a 19-year-old and was released in October, stood to earn up to £2,500-a-week in the deal according to an exclusive report in the Daily Mail.

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Ched Evans and girlfriend Natasha Massey who has stood by him

After prolonged negotiations amid mounting controversy over the convicted rapist striker, the club was finally expected to announce it will give him a deal on Thursday "barring any last-minute issues."

Oldham had been expected to announce it would sign the striker on Monday but the prospect triggered a change.org petition that became one of the fastest growing in the site's history, attracting a signature every second at one point.

This prompted widespread reports that the club was having second thoughts.

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It rigidly refused to contribute to speculation about Evans' future throughout Monday and Tuesday, as the debate about the ethics of signing a convicted rapist played out on social media and in the press.

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.