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Oldham Athletic set to offer rapist Ched Evans route back into football

Oldham Athletic are expected to officially announce that they are signing convicted rapist Ched Evans today.

Club owner Simon Corney has confirmed there is an "80%" chance of the club signing Evans, who he believes "has served his time".

Corney said the decision to give Evans (26) a route back into football had been agreed unanimously by all six members of the Oldham board, despite vociferous opposition and sponsors severing ties with the League One club.

"We believe he has served his time. There is an 80% chance of us signing him. It won't be done today. It's not straightforward and there are some legal issues," he said yesterday.

"There might be a cost implication, but you have to stick to your principles. We weren't surprised by the backlash."

Corney said three unnamed Premier League club managers had contacted him to offer their support, and that he respects the views of those who thought Evans should not be allowed back into professional football.

He added: "I completely understand people's views and I respect them. I would never tell people they are wrong to have their own views. But we want people to keep them in check. I hope people don't get too carried way and it doesn't get too hot."

Evans was released from prison last October, halfway through a five-year sentence for raping a 19-year-old woman. Discussions between Oldham and the Professional Footballers' Association have continued over Evans' signing, and there have been reports he and the club have agreed personal terms ahead of an announcement today, with a two-and-a-half-year deal being suggested for the Wales international striker.

The news prompted a negative response from sponsors.

One, Verlin Rainwater Solutions, announced it was cutting ties with the club immediately.

Craig Verling, a director of Verlin Rainwater Solutions - which sponsors a stand at Boundary Park - said in a statement: "After receiving the news regarding the imminent signing of Ched Evans, it is with great regret that Verlin Rainwater Solutions will no longer be associated with Oldham Athletic."

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