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Ched Evans slams 'mob rule' as his move to Oldham collapses

By Dave Higgens

Convicted rapist Ched Evans has blamed the "mob rule tactics employed by the more radical elements of our society" for scuppering his planned return to football with Oldham Athletic.

Evans's controversial move to the League One side collapsed after club insiders said threats had been made to staff, and sponsors indicated they would pull out.

The former Sheffield United and Wales striker said it was with "great sadness" that he had to end talks with Oldham.

The 26-year-old also condemned the online abuse of his victim, continued to maintain his innocence in the face of his rape conviction and also apologised about what he called "the effects" of the events in a north Wales hotel room which led to his arrest.

Oldham's decision to pull out of the deal was welcomed by campaigners against Evans's return to football and Prime Minister David Cameron said he would have some "real concerns" about taking his children to watch a football match if a convicted rapist was playing.

Evans said: "I apologise to the club's supporters, sponsors and all those affected by the last 72 hours.

"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"The most significant issue for me was that, owing to the threat of funding opportunities being withdrawn which may jeopardise the building of Oldham's new stand, it would mean that workers would lose their jobs and others would be put at risk - that would simply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, who is appealing his conviction, went on: "Upon legal advice, I chose not to discuss the events in question.

"My silence has been misinterpreted as arrogance and I would like to state that this could not be further from the truth."

Mr Cameron said he believed in giving people a second chance, but added: "I think perhaps what is unrealistic about what Ched Evans has done is to just expect that you can have a rape conviction and then just (get) straight back into professional football.

"Yes he has done his time in prison - not a huge amount of time - but he has done his time.

"But perhaps Ched Evans needs to do more to put back in to the community before he restarts his career."

Jill Saward, who campaigns for rape victims, said Evans's apology was "too little, too late".

"I think it's a pretty weak statement," she said.

Background

Footballer Ched Evans has served half of a five-year sentence for raping a 19-year-old woman in a hotel room in Rhyl in 2011, and remains on licence.

Since his conviction, his victim, who has a legal right to anonymity for life, has moved home five times as online trolls repeatedly tracked her down and revealed her new identity.

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