Former Sheffield United striker Ched Evans has had a difficult time finding work after being released from prison after serving half of a 5 year sentence for rape, but the Independent’s Ian Herbert reports Oldham Athletic’s plans to acquire Evans have been burnished by the wealthy father of the 26 year-old’s fiancee.

A successful businessman who runs a chain of jewellery stores in north-west England, Karl Massey is understood to have pledged financial backing to make good any money which Oldham’s sponsors withdraw in protest. He is also ready to provide a cash incentive which will cover Evans’ wages until the end of the season. Massey has a personal connection to Oldham’s chairman and owner, Simon Corney, another Mancunian entrepreneur.

The League One club also feel fortified by having the backing – and cover – of the Professional Footballers’ Association, who had initially undertaken to join them at a press conference on Monday, though withdrew that commitment amid the blizzard of condemnation of the move. The PFA is also thought to be ready to provide financial support to get Evans back into the game at Oldham.

Although a petition demanding that Oldham should not sign Evans has gathered 12,000 signatures, Oldham do not seem to feel that their fanbase is universally against the idea. One source suggested that Oldham feel as many as 75 per cent of fans would accept Evans joining the club, though this could not be confirmed.