Evans talks to continue

Oldham and the Professional Footballers’ Association will resume talks on Wednesday over the possibility of the club signing convicted rapist Ched Evans.

Evans talks to continue

Oldham and the Professional Footballers’ Association will resume talks on Wednesday over the possibility of the club signing convicted rapist Ched Evans.

The League One club are considering giving a contract to Evans despite the outcry that has arisen since that was revealed.

The PFA and Oldham were close to agreeing a joint statement on Tuesday but there were several outstanding issues, with the club seeking a number of reassurances.

The decision over Evans has divided fans and even Prime Minister David Cameron has become involved.

Asked at a regular Westminster news briefing whether Cameron thought Evans should be given a new footballing contract, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman told reporters: “His view hasn’t changed (from) ... the time when there were reports around Sheffield United.

“Ultimately, it is for employers to take decisions, but the Prime Minister does think that footballers are role models and he is sure that any potential would-be clubs and employers will weigh their decisions very carefully.”

Evans was released from prison last October halfway through a five-year sentence for raping a 19-year-old woman.

Since then, he has been rejected by Hartlepool and Tranmere. Former club Sheffield United offered the striker a chance to train with them last November but they retracted the invitation after it caused uproar.

Oldham, however, chose to begin a second round of negotiations with the Welshman despite insisting last month that they would not sign Evans. It has led to more than 35,000 people signing an online petition urging them not to do so.

The Football Supporters’ Federation (FSF) said fans were split over the issue of whether Evans should be given the chance to play professional football again.

An FSF spokesman said: “There is no clear consensus from fans one way or the other – this is clearly a very divisive issue in society, not just among supporters.

“Some fans argue that footballers convicted of offences such as rape should never be allowed to play professionally again as it is such a serious crime.

“Other supporters say that once an individual is released from prison, they should be allowed to pursue their previous career so long as the law of the land allows it.

“Even if Evans has the right to play, some fans say they would still feel uncomfortable at the implications of a convicted rapist representing their club.”

Jim McMahon, leader of Oldham Council, called for the club not to sign Evans.

He said: “My view – if I were in the club’s position – is that playing for a professional club puts you in the public eye and that carries important responsibilities.

“As things stand, I don’t believe that Mr Evans would be a suitable role model and ambassador for the town, or for the long-term reputation of the club.”

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