Convicted rapist Ched Evans issued an apology of sorts today, but his move to English third-tier club Oldham Athletic has fallen through amid intense criticism and threats to team employees.
The 26-year-old former Wales striker was released from prison last October after serving half his five-year sentence and seemed set to sign for the Greater Manchester club, but widespread public revulsion and pressure from sponsors made Oldham think twice.
On Thursday, the team pulled out of the deal and there were initial reports, since denied, that owner Simon Corney had quit.
“Whilst I continue to maintain my innocence, I wish to make it clear that I wholeheartedly apologize for the effects that night in Rhyl has had on many people, not least the woman concerned,” Evans said in his statement.
It’s some way short of the full apology and unqualified contrition many commentators and fans have called for, though since Evans is hoping for the case to be reviewed, it wouldn’t make sense for him, legally, to admit culpability. He’s also technically not “served his time” – an argument made by some, including QPR manager Harry Redknapp, in favor of him resuming his soccer career. Evans is still on probation.
Oldham said in a club statement: “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.”
What’s making this all-around grim story even worse is that Oldham appears to have abandoned the plan in part because of threats made to club staff and their families. Oldham’s statement referred to “vile and abusive threats, some including death threats, which have been made to our fans, sponsors and staff.” One staff member was told a relative would be raped if the deal went ahead, according to the BBC.