Former Sheffield United player and convicted rapist Ched Evans is still waiting to find out if he had landed another contract - as a club linked with him came under mounting pressure to pull out of talks.
The ex-Blade, who was released from prison in October - mid-way through a five year sentence imposed for raping a woman in a North Wales hotel - was tipped to sign for Oldham Athletic this week but the deal looks increasingly unlikely as the club faced a backlash.
Oldham bosses called an emergency board meeting today as opposition to the move to sign Evans grew, including a petition containing more than 20,000 names urging the League One club to re-consider.
The club said tonight it will not be making an official announcement about Evans ‘at this stage’.
A spokesman said: “Oldham Athletic is not at this stage making any official announcement with regard to the speculation concerning Ched Evans.
“Whilst acknowledging the considerable media attention, we continue to have conversations with representative bodies such as the PFA 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.”
Club sponsor Verlin said it will terminate any involvement with Oldham should the club sign Evans.
And Labour leader Ed Miliband stepped into the debate.
“Personally, if I was in their shoes, he hasn’t shown remorse and I wouldn’t take him on,” he said.
Evans, who maintains his innocence and whose case is to be looked at by the Criminal Case Review Commission, was linked with Oldham last month and is understood new talks have recently taken place.
Craig Verling, a director of Verlin Rainwater Solutions, which sponsors a stand at Oldham Athletic’s Boundary Park stadium, said: “The club know our stance and that is if they sign or allow Ched Evans to train we will be out of the door.
“We had a conversation with the club when they considered allowing Ched Evans to train with them six to eight weeks ago, and we were led to believe they had listened to the general input.”
Oldham manager Lee Johnson said it will be a ‘board decision’ if the club opts to sign Evans.
“I understand these are very difficult circumstances,” he said.
Former Oldham player Rick Holden, said: “I’m not comfortable with it at all, it’s one of those crimes that will never go away in my opinion.”