Ched Evans has blamed ’mob rule’ for his move to Oldham collapsing and for the first time apologised to the woman he was found guilty of raping.
Evans claimed a new stand at Oldham would have been put at risk had he joined, while the club’s chief executive Neil Joy insisted they pulled the plug on a deal following “vile and abusive threats, including death threats” to fans, sponsors and staff.
Greater Manchester Police said, however, that no reports about death threats or other serious threats had been received.
Evans, 26, said in a statement: “Sadly the ’mob rule’ tactics employed by the more radical elements of our society and the constant media reporting has had the desired influence on some sponsors and the club would face significant financial pressure if I joined them.
“The most significant issue for me was that owing to the threat of funding opportunities being withdrawn which may jeopardise the building of Oldham’s new stand, it would mean that workers would lose their jobs and others would be put at risk – that would simply not be fair.”
Evans was released from prison last October, halfway through a five-year sentence for raping a 19-year-old woman in 2011.
He has now condemned social media attacks on the woman and for the first time issued an apology while still maintaining his innocence.
His statement added: “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.”
It is the second time Oldham have pulled out of a deal to sign the striker, whose chances of finding a team willing to take him on now appear limited.
Oldham’s chief executive Joy confirmed “significant financial pressure” on the club contributed to the decision – several sponsors had threatened to sever ties.
He said: ”We deplore and condemn the vile and abusive threats, some including death threats, which have been made to our fans, sponsors and staff whilst this process has been in the public domain.
”The whole issue has divided opinion and the club has been put under unbearable pressure as a result.
”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.”