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Talks continue over Evans 'deal'

Oldham Athletic have not ruled out signing convicted rapist Ched Evans.

In a statement, the club's chief executive Neil Joy said there would be no announcement for the time being regarding the 26-year-old's future.

Despite increasing pressure from members of the public to withdraw its offer to Evans, the League One side has not indicated what it plans to do.

Speaking at Boundary Park, Mr Joy said: "Oldham Athletic is not at this stage making any official announcement with regard to the speculation concerning Ched Evans.

"Whilst acknowledging the considerable media attention, we continue to have conversations with representative bodies such as the PFA and will conduct due diligence with regard to any decision we make on this matter.

"Although it has been reported that a press conference would be held, we will officially advise if and when any such event will take place.

"The club would also request that its stakeholders' and partners' position and privacy be respected until this matter has been concluded. We will not be making any further comment for the time being."

Surrounded by the media, Mr Joy refused to answer any questions.

Earlier Greater Manchester's police and crime commissioner urged the side not to sign Evans, saying he had shown a "lack of remorse" and should not be presenting himself as a role model to young people.

The statement from Tony Lloyd came as it was reported that the Oldham board was meeting to review the decision.

Former Labour MP Mr Lloyd said: "Ched Evans is a convicted rapist and, whilst I strongly believe in the principle of rehabilitation, it will send out entirely the wrong message if they offer him a contract.

"All offenders have the right to rebuild their lives and make amends after they have served their sentence but Ched Evans's lack of remorse and failure to acknowledge his offence means it is simply inappropriate for him to be on a Greater Manchester football pitch week in and week out presenting himself as some kind of role model, especially to young people."

Before Mr Joy made his statement, team manager Lee Johnson had said the issue was a "board decision".

As well as an online petition against the move attracting more than 20,000 signatures, club sponsors have expressed their opposition, with Craig Verling, a director of Verlin Rainwater Solutions, saying it would be "out of the door" if the signing was completed.

The club also has a partnership with its local Mecca Bingo Club.

The company tweeted: "We can confirm will be ending our association with @OfficialOAFC if they sign Ched Evans."

However, not all are against the move, with another Oldham sponsor, Web Applications UK, saying it would continue to support the club irrespective of its decision over Evans.

The company's chief executive Craig Dean said he believed it would be "unethical" to seek to influence the situation in either direction.

Other clubs including Tranmere and Hartlepool rejected the opportunity to sign Evans, and a recently touted move abroad to Maltese club Hibernians appeared to be halted due to rules on convicted sex offenders and their probation regime.

Evans, who previously played for Manchester City, was jailed in April 2012 for raping a woman in Rhyl, North Wales. He was released from prison in October after serving half of the five-year sentence.

Soon afterwards he released a video protesting his innocence and vowing to clear his name.

His victim, who has a legal right to anonymity for life, has moved home five times since the trial as online trolls keeping tracking her down and revealing her new identity.

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