Ched Evans: Oldham Athletic owner says deal is 80% likely

Ched Evans
Ched Evans in action for Sheffield United during the 2011-12 season

Oldham Athletic owner Simon Corney says there is an "80% chance" that the League One club will sign convicted rapist Ched Evans.

Speaking to the Jewish Chronicleexternal-link from New York, Corney said the deal could happen "at any time", but that it "wasn't straightforward" and there were "some legal issues" to overcome first.

"We believe he has served his time," Corney said.

Club sponsors have been told to prepare for confirmation of the Evans deal.

Oldham, who are 14th in League One, said there would be no statement on Wednesday but hope to make an announcement later in the week.

Speaking after a third day of talks between club board members and other parties, Oldham director Barry Owen said: "There are ongoing negotiations with regard to signing Ched Evans.

"Unfortunately there is quite a lot of due diligence which still needs to be completed. We're still in talks with the PFA and other agencies.

"There are things to be done, genuinely. I don't anticipate it will be done over the next few days."

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One sponsor, Verlin Rainwater Solutions, has now ended its association with the club. Director Craig Verling said the "imminent signing" of Evans, 26, had prompted the decision.

A second sponsor, ZenOffice, said it will also end its association with the club if Evans signs.

Managing director Les Kerr said Oldham's "current path" did not "espouse" the company's values of "family and community".

More than 60,000 people have signed a petition calling for Oldham not to sign the Wales international, while campaigners and politicians have voiced opposition to the move.

Corney also told the Jewish Chronicle he was not surprised by the backlash.

He said: "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."

The Oldham chairman added the decision to sign Evans had been taken "unanimously" by the Latics' six-person board.

He said three Premier League club managers had contacted him to offer their support - but did not name them.

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

Wales international Evans was expected to join the Latics on a long-term deal and train with the club on Monday.

But the move met with widespread opposition, stalling the deal.

A counter-petition calling for Evans to be given a second chance has attracted more than 2,000 signatures, while some sponsors have also said he should be given a second chance.

Evans was jailed in April 2012 for raping a woman in Rhyl, North Wales.

He was released from prison in October after serving half of a five-year sentence.

The former Manchester City and Sheffield United player continues to protest his innocence, and an investigation into his conviction by the Criminal Cases Review Commission is under way.

Evans has already held talks with former club Sheffield United about a return to football, but they decided against signing him following criticism from supporters and club patrons, while more than 160,000 people signed a petition against his return.