Oldham Athletic became the second club (after Sheffield United) to have officially reneged on a deal to sign Ched Evans after a public backlash and corporate pressure forced a U-turn.
Synonymous with both prospective deals was the protracted manner that preceded it before they both decided against the deal. The owners of Sheffield United and Oldham seemed besieged with conflicting interests of business and morals before they had their minds made up for them.
In this sense I have a degree of sympathy for both clubs and every indignation for an increasingly slow and gutless FA. As with every football club around the globe, the owners have shareholders to pay dividends to, fans to appease and players to pay for. With both teams on the cusp of promotion to a higher division, the stakes are higher and the decisions are harder.
This is a dilemma every business owner around the world can identify with; fortunately, in most professions there is an organisation or ruling body that creates rules and regulations to keep trading fair and in compliance with the wider public. This is where the FA have failed horribly: there is no such ruling in English football.
Far too often things are done arbitrarily without a shred of common sense or consistency applied to them. For example:
Eric Cantona was banned from football for 8 months and given a fine of £30,000 for kung-fu kicking a fan in 1994.
Following his admission Keane was fined £150,000 but only given a five match ban. To make matters worse, in a later interview Keane stated he had no remorse for his actions. "My attitude was, fuck him. What goes around comes around. He got his just rewards. He fucked me over and my attitude is an eye for an eye."
Clearly, the FA have an aptitude for running away from difficult decisions or less harshly, mishandling them. Therefore, when an issue such as rape comes along, it is no surprise the FA offered no direction.
What the FA need to do is create a guidebook constituting the conduct of a professional footballer, with particular focus on permanently banning those who bring the game into severe disrepute - which if haven't guessed, is exactly what Evans has done.
The offense of rape is socially stigmatising and the effects are usually felt long after the initial attack. Physically, the damage does not stand up to murder but psychologically, it can alter personalities to the degree the victim is a shell of their former selves and in this sense a part of them has died.
Legislation does not reflect this similarity as murder carries a maximum life sentence of 20 years, whereas a single rape offence of a victim the age of 16 or higher carries a maximum sentence of 8 years - Evans received the minimum of 5 and served 2 and a half before parole.
Nonetheless, this does not mean football cannot or should not intervene. The judicial process may have believed Evans was of a fit mind to be reintegrated back into society, but this does not mean Evans is fit for football.
The notion of footballers or indeed anyone in the public eye being a role model is silly, but it cannot be ignored a large portion of football supporters are young and impressionable males. What sort of example would it set to them and indeed to rape victims that a rapist can be welcomed back into a public arena and be cheered on like nothing had ever happened? It sets a horrible precedent to the rest of the public that crimes such as rape are less heinous than others.
Furthermore, footballers are often asked to work with charities by their clubs (or indeed by their own volition). Such opportunities would normally not be afforded to criminals with a chequered history, especially roles that meant working children.
In any climate, the only upside to Evans returning to football benefits him and him only. On a wider scale, Evans return to football would be extremely negligible to the public and as such it would be a discredit to football to allow him to play professionally as long as the title of convicted rapist hangs over his head.