Ched Evans: Oldham hoping to complete deal for convicted rapist

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

Oldham Athletic are hoping to complete the signing of convicted rapist Ched Evans on Thursday.

Terms with the Welsh striker, 26, have been agreed and the deal is close to being finalised despite a backlash, including a 60,000-strong petition.

However, there are still legal issues to overcome which could cause a delay.

A board member told the BBC they were "minded" to sign Evans but said the Professional Footballers' Association was a key driver in the move.

Owner Simon Corney said on Wednesday that the club, who are 14th in League One, were 80% likely to sign the striker.

The former Manchester City and Sheffield United player was jailed in April 2012 for raping a woman and was released from prison in October after serving half of a five-year sentence.

What about the impact of Evans's deal on the victim?

Guardian sports writer David Conn: "There's been no decency shown to her after the event. You can still say 'I maintain my innocence of the crime, while apologising for what I did which I don't dispute,' and show some decency and empathy for this woman.

"When I saw that Evans' supporters' website, and understood the way the victim has continued to be treated, that was a tipping point for me to make me feel that he has not done enough to show himself as someone who should have that second chance. I don't think he's ready yet."

Will the dressing room accept him?

Former England international Danny Mills: "The dressing room is unlike any other place on the planet. Rightly, or wrongly, morally right or morally wrong, the dressing room is a sanctum of protection. Things will be said. There might be press cuttings quite possibly put on his locker, or where he gets changed."

"Trouble is with football, it becomes very, very selfish at times and if Ched Evans goes into that dressing room and starts to play good football and starts to score the odd goal then, rightly or wrongly, whatever you think should happen, those players will forget about everything off the pitch if he's doing the business on the pitch."

Guy Mowbray, BBC commentator: "What does it do to members of the squad who think, 'If you're that desperate to get that sort of player in, with everything that it brings, then thanks very much. You can't rate me very highly can you?'."

How will fans react?

Former Sunderland striker Kevin Phillips: "The interesting thing for me is that Oldham are struggling, they need a centre forward, and it'll be quite interesting to see how the supporters react when he scores his first goal.

"I'm pretty sure there's going to be many in that crowd saying they won't turn up, but I'm sure they will at some point, and it'll be interesting to see whether they celebrate if he scores a goal.

"It's quite unique being on that football pitch because you put everything to the back of your mind. If he scores a goal, I'm pretty sure the players at that time will celebrate. They need a goalscorer."

Does he deserve a second chance?

Mills: "To play devil's advocate for a moment, he's committed a crime, he's served his sentence in prison - supposedly - therefore he should have been rehabilitated, therefore he comes back into it. Should he not be allowed to do his job of work?

Conn: "You have the right to work in theory, but you don't have a right to walk back into your chosen profession. No employer, no football club has a duty to employ him."

Chief sports writer for the Daily Mirror, Oliver Holt: "The last thing I want to be is to be seen as some sort of champion of Ched Evans... but I believe in a society where once criminals have served their sentence they deserve the chance to rehabilitate.

"I just think we're on dangerous ground when we start making slightly random judgements about which criminals we allow back to work, and which criminals we don't."

Will the signing work out?

Mowbray: "I am very, very surprised that they're going down this route. With everything that's gone before it, I can't believe that they're that desperate that they would take this signing with all the baggage and the problems that will come with it.

"There are financial implications, with sponsorship deals being lost, there might even be implications with policing costs, with the extra security needed.

"I struggle to see it really ending positively for the club, or indeed the player, because if they're going to all this trouble, there's immense pressure on him as well."

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

Mills, Phillips, Mowbray, Conn and Holt were speaking on BBC Radio 5 live.