Hartlepool United has confirmed it will not sign convicted rapist Ched Evans after its new manager said hiring the ex Sheffield United striker was a ‘possibility’.
The former striker had an offer to train with the Blades but that was then withdrawn last month after much opposition.
But new Hartlepool manager Ronnie Moore reportedly said that it was a ‘possibility’ to get Evans in the struggling side, which has just been taken over.
The town’s Labour MP Iain Wright said he hoped the club would not sign Evans as it would send a bad message to young fans and that Evans was a ‘pariah’.
But the club has now confirmed they are not looking to sign the Welshman. It said Moore was asked to comment on an internet rumour and he responded ‘hypothetically’.
Chairman Peter Harris said: “We are upset at the manner in which this story has escalated and wish to make it clear that the player will not be joining the club.
“All we are concentrating on is league survival and do not want anything to upset that goal.
“The club regrets any upset that may have been caused but we feel we must deal with this matter quickly and put the story to bed once and for all.”
Sheffield United withdrew an offer for Evans to train at the club last month.
The full statement from Hartlepool said: “In light of recent media reports the Club would like to make the following statement.
“Following media reports relating to the possible signing of Ched Evans the Club wishes to make its position clear.
“1. Hartlepool United do not intend signing Ched Evans and, for the avoidance of doubt, will not be doing so, irrespective of his obvious ability as a football player.
“2. This story has emerged following an unsubstantiated internet rumour which the manager was asked to comment upon. The manager responded hypothetically to the situation by stating “if it could happen I would want it to happen”. This response was based upon the player’s obvious ability as a footballer and as such as then been headlined by the media without asking the Club for their official position.
“3. The Club can fully understand the concerns of supporters and the general public and regrets any misconception portrayed.
“4. After a highly positive week at Hartlepool United following the takeover by new owners and the appointment of a new manager, the owners are saddened by this unfortunate turn of events and wish to draw a line under it immediately.”
Moore’s comments also divided supporters.
Evans, 25, was released in October after serving half of a five-year sentence for the rape of a 19-year-old woman in a hotel room in 2011.
Speaking on Saturday night, Moore was reported as saying: “If it could happen for me, I would want it to happen.
“There is no doubt about that. He is a proven goalscorer.
“He has served his time for me and the boy wants to play football.
“If there is a chance that he might come here, and I don’t see any reason why he shouldn’t.
“I know what will happen now, everybody will be groaning and you see what happened at Sheffield United.
“You keep pushing the lad away. He made a mistake and maybe he hasn’t made the apology in the right way and there is a case pending on the appeal.
“On the football matters, if he gets on the park he will go a long way to getting us out of trouble, that’s for sure.
“It is a possibility, I would leave it at that for now.”