Convicted rapist Ched Evans set to sign for Oldham Athletic despite sponsors threatening club exodus
Shamed footballer Ched Evans has reportedly signed with League One side Oldham Athletic despite condemnation from sponsors and prominent figures in the media, sport and much of the general public.
The convicted rapist, who remains unrepentant for the attack which saw him serve two years of a five year sentence in prison, looks set to join the club despite a petition urging teams not to sign the footballer garnering 60,000 signatures, according to BBC News.
Oldham Athletic shirt sponsor Sports Direct came under pressure to veto its £1m partnership with the club if the signing goes through but asserted that it will honour its commitment even if Evans joins the side. In contrast, Verlin Rainwater Solutions has ended its association with the club and Mecca Bingo Bolton promised to do so if the move is greenlighted.
Verlin Rainwater Solutions director Craig Verling, said: "We would like to take this opportunity to make clear that we feel that Mr Evans should be able to lead a life without further punishment after serving his sentence, although our feelings remain the same that this should not be within the public domain where his previous behaviour may influence the next generation.
"We sincerely wish the club a very successful future and have no regrets about being associated with Oldham Athletic over the past few seasons, but feel our continued support would be sending out the wrong message."
Additionally, Mecca tweeted.
We can confirm will be ending our association with @OfficialOAFC if they sign Ched Evans.
— Mecca (@MeccaBingo) January 5, 2015
Naysayers of Evans' condemnation claim that convicted footballers have returned to the sport before, however, Andy Kenny, managing director of sponsorship agency brandrapport told the Drum that the major difference between Evans’ situation and previous occurrences is that the Welshman is unrepentant for his crime.
Prime minister David Cameron weighed in on the situation with his spokesman saying: “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' former club Sheffield United was inundated with similar sponsorship threats last year with sponsor DBL Logistics threatening to ditch its partnership if the player rejoined the side as he would clash with the “family values” at the firm’s “core”.