Ched Evans' mugshot (handout)
Ched Evans' mugshot: the 25 year-old footballer claims he was wrongly convicted of rapeSource: Police handout

Oldham Athletic have not ruled out signing Ched Evans despite mounting pressure from fans, sponsors and police.

The football club was understood to have planned a press conference on Monday morning about the signing of Evans but decided against in light of the public outcry.

A closed training session was held without Evans. Manager Lee Johnson admitted the League One club were in "a very difficult situation" after expressing interest in signing the 26-year-old striker.

The board spent all day in talks but failed to make a decision. Oldham chief executive Neil Joy read out a club statement: "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."

Northumbria police and crime commissioner, Vera Baird, has called on Newcastle owner Mike Ashley to end Sports Direct's £1million sponsorship deal with the League One club if they decide to sign Evans.

In a letter to Ashley, Baird wrote: "It is tantamount to saying that sexual abuse is okay as long as you can play football. If Oldham Athletic decide to appoint him [Evans], I would urge you to withdraw Sports Direct sponsorship at the club."

Craig Verling, a director of Verlin Rainwater Solutions which sponsors a stand at Boundary Park
said he would terminate any involvement with Oldham should the club go through with the signing.

Verling told Press Association Sport: "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.

"But our sources have made it clear he will be training or signing for the club this week and it is not something we wish to be associated with."

An online petition against the signing of Evans to Oldham became one of the fastest-growing ever and has now garnered more than 24,000 signatures.

The woman who started one of the fast-growing Change.org petitions of all time, urging Oldham Athletic not to sign unrepentant convicted rapist Ched Evans received hundreds of messages of abuse on Twitter in less than 24 hours.

Jean Hatchet, who uses a pseudonym for her personal safety told i100.co.uk she could take on the trolls because "Evans's poor victim is still living a life of horror and she possibly will for the rest of her life".