Oldham Athletic owner says Ched Evans deserves second chance

By Marcus Dysch, January 7, 2015
Rapist and probable Oldham Athletic signing Ched Evans (Photo: PA)

Rapist and probable Oldham Athletic signing Ched Evans (Photo: PA)

EXCLUSIVE

Oldham Athletic owner Simon Corney has confirmed the club expects to sign convicted rapist Ched Evans in the coming days.

Speaking to the JC exclusively from New York, Mr Corney said the League One club believed the Welsh international striker had “served his time”.

The deal could happen “at any time”, but is likely to be confirmed before the weekend, he said.

In his first public comments on the proposed transfer, Mr Corney said: “We believe he has served his time. There is an 80 per cent chance of us signing him. It won’t be done today. It’s not straightforward and there are some legal issues.

“There might be a cost implication, but you have to stick to your principles. We weren’t surprised by the backlash.”

He revealed that three unnamed Premier League club managers had contacted him to offer their support.

Mr Corney said he understood concerns expressed by supporters and members of the public about the transfer.

“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 away and it doesn’t get too hot.”

The Oldham chairman said the decision to sign Evans had been taken “unanimously” by the Latics’ six-person board.

Oldham Athletic chairman Simon Corney

Oldham Athletic chairman Simon Corney

A number of financial backers and sponsors of Oldham have already terminated their deals in opposition to the planned signing. More than 60,000 people have signed a petition calling on the club to scrap the transfer.

The JC understands Simon Blitz, who bought the club with Mr Corney a decade ago and still owns Oldham’s stadium, is among those who is fully supportive of the deal.

He is believed to have argued that while Evans had committed a crime, the player had served his sentence and deserved another chance.

Evans was released from jail last October after serving half of a five-and-a-half year sentence for raping a woman in 2011.

Former Hasmonean High School pupil Mr Corney grew up in Edgware, north London and studied accountancy at Leeds University.

After working as a metal trader he moved to New York in 1998 to pursue a career with a mobile phone company based in Chicago, San Francisco and Toronto.

He married his American wife Keren in 2000 and the couple have three children. Other family members live in Israel.

Alongside fellow Jewish tycoons Simon Blitz and Danny Gazal, Mr Corney purchased the Lancashire club during the 2003/04 season. The consortium was credited with stabilising Oldham, which had been in a perilous financial position and close to liquidation.

It has been rumoured that the Professional Footballers’ Association may have partially initiated the Evans deal, approaching Oldham because of its record in signing footballers convicted of criminal offences.

In 2007 Oldham signed Lee Hughes after his release from jail following a death by dangerous driving case.

Last updated: 6:52pm, January 7 2015