By Mike Collett
Oldham Athletic have pulled out of signing convicted rapist Ched Evans following pressure from fans and sponsors and alleged threats made to the club’s staff and their families, British media reported.
Earlier on Thursday, the former Wales international striker issued an apology for the first time since he was released from prison last October after serving half of a five-year sentence for the crime that took place in the Welsh town of Rhyl in April 2012.
In a statement issued through the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) Evans, 26, said he was sorry “for the effects that night in Rhyl has had on many people” but continued to protest his innocence.
A director of League One (third tier) Oldham told the BBC that a staff member was warned a named relative would be raped if the deal to sign Evans went ahead. Police are investigating those claims.
In a statement Evans said: “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.
Oldham were the third club linked with Evans after his former club Sheffield United and then fourth tier Hartlepool expressed interest in taking him on.
More than 60,000 people signed a petition against Oldham signing Evans while other campaigners and politicians condemned the move.
One club sponsor ended its deal with Oldham earlier this week while another said it would do so if Evans was signed.