Oldham Athletic will not sign convicted rapist Ched Evans after pressure from sponsors who threatened to end partnerships with the team, reports The Guardian.
Officials from the club also said that team staff, players and sponsors had received death threats, according to the AP.
Evans was released from prison on license in October after serving more than half of a five-year prison sentence for raping a 19-year-old woman in 2011. Evans has been linked to several clubs since his release, but none have signed him.
Earlier this week, Oldham’s owner and chairman Simon Corney said that a deal with Evans had an “80% chance” of being completed. Over 70,000 people signed a petition calling on Oldham Atlantic not to sign Evans.
One of the team’s sponsors, Verlin Rainwater Solutions, announced Wednesday that they were cutting ties with the Football League One club after hearing the reports of Evans signing with the team.
Evans, who maintains his innocence, apologized for the “effects that night in Rhyl has had on many people, not least the woman concerned.” It was Evans' first apology.
QPR manager Harry Redknapp told the BBC that Evans should be given a second chance to continue his career.
"Once you've done your time you've done your time, and somewhere along the line you've got to come out and make a go of your life,” Redknapp said. “So it's a very difficult situation at the moment with the lad who is a footballer and wants to play football. He can't just not be allowed to carry on with his life."
The Criminal Cases Review Commission is currently reviewing Evans’ conviction.
- Scooby Axson