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Football: Ched Evans apologises after Oldham U-turn

2015-01-08 15:58:01

Ched Evans

Footballer Ched Evans has apologised "for the effects" of his actions in 2011 but continues to maintain his innocence over his rape conviction.

Evans issued a statement hours after it emerged League One side Oldham Athletic would not be signing the player.

He was jailed in April 2012 for raping a woman, 19, at a north Wales hotel.

The 26-year-old said: "I wholeheartedly apologise for the effects that night in Rhyl has had on many people, not least the woman concerned."

Wales international Evans was released from prison in October 2014 after serving half of his five-year sentence but attempts to resume his football career have met with widespread opposition.

Oldham pulled out of plans to sign the player on Thursday, citing threats made to staff and their families had the deal gone ahead.

A club director told BBC sports editor Dan Roan that a staff member was informed a named relative would be raped if the deal went ahead.

There has also been "enormous pressure from sponsors", the board member said.

Sheffield United similarly shelved plans to sign their former striker in November, following public outcry.

Evans had been criticised for failing to apologise to his victim, but, in a statement issued via the Professional Footballers' Association, he said: "Upon legal advice, I was told not to discuss the events in question.

Ched EvansChed Evans leaves his Cheshire home with girlfriend Natasha Massey

"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 also issued a statement to clarify its position.

It read: "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."

Greater Manchester's chief constable Sir Peter Fahy said his force would investigate threats to Oldham's staff and their families.

"It is totally unacceptable," Sir Peter told BBC Radio 5 live. "We will be contacting Oldham Athletic to make sure that it's investigated."

Jim McMahon, the leader of Oldham Council, urged "all sides of the debate to show restraint and calm".

"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," said McMahon.

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

Source: bbc.co.uk

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