Ched Evans: Oldham owner says he was 'right' to try and sign convicted rapist

Simon Corney admitted that he underestimated the intense 'attention and fury' which followed the failed attempt to bring the Welshman to the club

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The Independent Football

Simon Corney, the Oldham owner, has defended the club’s decision to try to sign convicted rapist Ched Evans last week, saying: “I still think the right thing would have been to take him, I really do.”

Speaking for the first time since the saga, however, he admitted that he underestimated the intense “attention and fury” which followed.

Corney, who reiterated his intention to sell the club, remained in New York throughout the Evans episode, in which Oldham Athletic were criticised by police, Government ministers and sponsors for trying to sign the Wales striker, who was released on licence last October, having served two and a half years of a five-year sentence for rape. Proposed moves to other clubs had already fallen through due to the ensuing furore.

Corney admitted that the attempt to sign Evans had affected people’s relationship with Oldham and that “a level of trust [has been] lost. For this, as chairman, I take responsibility.”

Corney told the Oldham Chronicle: “I was [in New York] when it was all going on and it grew to be a lot bigger than I thought. But once the answer became a no, that was that. I still think the right thing would have been to take him, I really do. But it wasn’t to be. We underestimated the attention and fury.”

On his intention to sell the club, he added: “Where does it all end, in 15 or 20 years’ time? I’ve been here for 12 years and I just don’t have the same interest any more. I love the club and love the game but enough is enough. I would like to find a buyer.

“Hopefully, it will be a lot more sellable with the new North Stand development there. And I would want it to go to the right person.”

He later added: “My commitment to the club, its fans, staff and sponsors is total and my desire to ensure the new stand is completed remains as strong as ever.

“As I have always said, if a buyer for the club comes forward who is able to take things on to another level then I will consider selling. That buyer has to be the right person and have the best interests of the club at heart.”