Evans still in the dark over Oldham deal

Oldham Athletic have vowed to conduct "due diligence" before deciding whether to sign convicted rapist Ched Evans.

The League One club are remaining coy in the face of intense media scrutiny after reports surfaced over the weekend that they are prepared to hand the disgraced 26-year-old a route back into professional football.

Evans served half of a five-year jail sentence before he was released in October, when he was linked with a return to Sheffield United until his former team staged a U-turn having earlier allowed him to train with the club.

Oldham themselves initially dismissed rumours linking Evans – who continues to protest his innocence – with a move to Boundary Park at the start of December, but fresh speculation has surfaced, prompting a response from the club on Monday.

"Oldham Athletic is not at this stage making any official announcement with regard to the speculation concerning Ched Evans," read a club statement.

"Whilst acknowledging the considerable media attention, we continue to have conversations with representative bodies such as the PFA [Professional Footballers' Association] and will conduct due diligence with regard to any decision we make on this matter.

"Although it has been reported that a press conference would be held we will officially advise if and when any such event will take place.

"The club would also request that its stakeholders and partners position and privacy be respected until this matter has been concluded.

"We will not be making any further comment for the time being."

Oldham's statement comes after Mecca Bingo, one of the club's sponsors, threatened to end their association should Evans be offered a contract.

Greater Manchester's Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd also spoke out on the subject on Monday, urging Oldham not to sign Evans as it would "send out entirely the wrong message".

A petition against Oldham bringing the Welshman to the club has gained over 25,000 signatures in less than 24 hours.