Hartlepool will not be signing convicted rapist Ched Evans, the League Two club have confirmed.
Newly-appointed boss Ronnie Moore said in the wake of Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Oxford that it was a “possibility” the striker could join Pools.
But in a statement released on Sunday afternoon, the club said they “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”.
Moore, who was given the job on Tuesday, was asked whether he would be willing to bring the 25-year-old to Victoria Park and the club have moved to clarify those comments which has led to widespread criticism. The statement added: “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 has then been headlined by the media without asking the club for their official position. The club can fully understand the concerns of supporters and the general public and regrets any misconception portrayed.
“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.”
Chairman Peter Harris added: “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.”
The news was well received by Hartlepool MP Iain Wright, who said the whole town will be united by the club’s decision.
He said: “I’m really pleased with that statement, it does draw a line under this event.
“This has been a momentous week for Hartlepool United, we have got new owners, we are still bottom of the league but we felt that this was a new chapter being written and we can now move on and make sure that our number one priority is league survival.
“The whole town will be united with what the new owners have done with this. I’m really pleased.
“The club recognises the importance a football club has on a town and the influence it has on its young fans.
“Having a rapist playing on the pitch, whether you like it or not players are role models for young people and the message it sends out that it is somehow acceptable to treat women this way is absolutely unacceptable.
“I’m pleased the new owners have nipped this in the bud and drawn a line under it.”
This episode is the latest blow to Evans’ hopes of a return to the game following his release from prison in October.
Last month Evans’ former employers Sheffield United performed a U-turn after originally allowing him to train at the club’s facilities following a public backlash, while Tranmere and Oldham have also rejected the opportunity to sign the striker.