Ched Evans: Convicted rapist in talks with Oldham Athletic

By Dan RoanBBC sports editor
Ched Evans connects with a volley for Sheffield United
Ched Evans was playing for Sheffield United at the time of his arrest

Convicted rapist Ched Evans has been in talks about signing for League One club Oldham, BBC Sport understands.

Last month Oldham denied reports they were set to offer the 26-year-old a contract, or let him train with them, but it is believed they have now had a change of heart.

Striker Evans has been without a club since he left prison in October.

The Wales international served half of a five-year term for raping a woman in a hotel in May 2011.

An online petition against Oldham signing Evans was set up on Sunday and had been signed by almost 19,000 people by 23:30 GMT.

Former Oldham player Rick Holden told BBC Radio 5 live he was "not comfortable at all" with the possibility of Evans joining the Latics.

"It's one of those crimes that will never go away," said Holden, who played 189 games for Oldham between 1989 and 1993.

"I don't see how the chap can survive given the ferocity of football up and down the land."

Holden, who played 189 games for Oldham between 1989 and 1993, said the club were "courting controversy", but added that they had "a history of taking on these difficult challenges".

Earlier on Sunday, Professional Footballers' Association chief executive Gordon Taylor had revealed that an unnamed club would hold a news conference regarding Evans on Monday, although he added that the player has yet to be signed.

"We've had a number of steps forward and a number of steps back. I'm not going to count my chickens," Taylor told BBC Radio 5 live's Sportsweek programme.

"If a club are looking to sign him they need to be 100% committed."

Ched Evans's career in numbers
Manchester City161
Norwich City (loan)2810
Sheffield United11348

If Oldham were to sign Evans it would not be the first time they have signed a striker who had served a prison sentence. In 2007 they signed Lee Hughes after he had served half of a six-year prison term for causing death by dangerous driving.

In November, Oldham chairman Simon Corney told BBC Radio Manchester that he felt people should be given a "second chance".

"I believe in the law of the land and my understanding is Ched went away and did his time in prison," he said.

"I know this is an argument people don't like but if he was an electrician and came out of jail he is entitled to work again.

"But we have the fact he's a role model. It is a dangerous topic to discuss but we do have to make sure we make the right decision."

On Evans's release from prison, Sheffield United offered him use of their training facilities.

However, the Blades withdrew the offer after a backlash from supporters and club patrons, while more than 160,000 people signed a petition protesting against his return.

Hartlepool also ruled out signing Evans after manager Ronnie Moore suggested he was considering a deal for the Welshman.

Taylor added: "Evans is a footballer. He wants to return to society as a footballer, so he does need an employer to take him on."

Evans maintains his innocence, and an investigation into his conviction by the Criminal Cases Review Commission is under way.