The Athletic FC: The manager with a rape conviction and three names

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Hello. We’re racing towards the end of the season, but that has not stopped The Athletic from investigating football’s more serious issues. I’m Jacob Whitehead and today we tell the story of Sam Wilson — the manager with three names and one rape conviction.

A Manager Mystery

What is the background?

After losing their manager to a rival team in February, Warrington Rylands (who play in the Northern Premier League, English football’s seventh tier and six steps below the Premier League) put senior players Sam Wilson and Dean Furman into temporary charge.

At that point, they did not have Wilson listed as an official squad member under that name — but had instead referred to him as Sam Egerton since his arrival in 2021. Earlier in his career, he had also been known as Sam Egerton-Wilson.

Their coaching spell initially began with success — but after he was named permanent manager earlier this month, replies to Rylands’ social media accounts soon took a turn. Links to a 2015 story from the Manchester Evening News were shared which described how Wilson, then 23, had been convicted of rape and ordered to sign the sex offenders’ register after attacking a woman in a Manchester flat.

Wilson was sentenced to five years in prison, but was out and back playing football by 2018, when he signed for non-League Trafford FC under the surname Egerton. Three years later, he joined Rylands, following a spell with Matlock Town.

His reign as Rylands’ permanent manager lasted just three days, with a departure “by mutual consent” announced on April 16 via a short statement that did not offer any reasons for the decision.

Why was his conviction not spotted earlier?

Conversations with a multitude of sources connected to non-League football in the region — all of whom wished to remain anonymous to protect their positions — revealed that Wilson’s history was an open secret within the game.

At the same time, it raises difficult questions over whether background checks from the NPL and its clubs are robust enough to ensure sex offenders are not offered roles that could pose safeguarding concerns. There is no public record of a rapist from Manchester called Sam Egerton — did his name change obscure his past?

It has also been suggested an injury suffered by Egerton soon after his release helped him gradually reintegrate into football without the sort of visibility that might invite difficult questions, while the NPL told The Athletic a lack of manpower made forensic record-keeping challenging.

Trafford and Matlock Town refused to comment on whether they were aware of Wilson’s conviction.

So what is happening now?

Wilson is still listed on Rylands’ website as a player, but the article announcing him as manager can no longer be found. Nearly all other traces of the decision to hire him have been removed from social media.

Since his departure, Rylands have not spoken publicly about the reasons behind the sudden change — though the league’s regulations are governed by the Football Association, whose rules allow contracts to be terminated if either the club or competition is brought into disrepute.

It is not known why Wilson chose to move away from the name Egerton, and return to Wilson — the name he was convicted under nine years ago. He told The Athletic’s Simon Hughes he preferred not to comment, saying he was “dealing with a number of contractual issues” — just another unanswered question his case has raised.

News 🗞

World Cup visa worries and MLS expansion

  • There are 777 days to go until the 2026 men’s World Cup in North America — but a race is already on. Adam Crafton reports concerns have been raised with the United States government, including an official meeting in the White House, over a large backlog of visa applications.
  • Meanwhile in Indianapolis, mayor Joe Hogsett has announced plans to bring an MLS team to the city. The Colts, the Pacers, the Fever, ‘the ???’.
  • Back in the United Kingdom, Liverpool’s managerial hunt is gathering pace. Their top target Arne Slot has said he wants to leave Feyenoord to replace Jurgen Klopp. Former Liverpool striker Dirk Kuyt spent a week shadowing the Dutch coach and reckons he will be a great choice.

Show Viz 📉

Is the Premier League Europe’s most competitive division?

Three days of work for The Athletic’s Tim Spiers — and for what? For this alternative view of the Premier League the division where any club can beat any other. As shown above, it’s the circle of life. While we’re on the subject, the team discuss the competitive strength of England’s top flight on The Athletic Football Tactics Podcast.

Ghost goal 👻

That was actually given as a goal?

Remember Stuart Attwell’s controversial decisions not to award three penalties to Nottingham Forest at the weekend? Well, for Watford fans, he is remembered for something else entirely, from way back in 2008. The traditional game is ‘spot the ball’ — have a go instead at ‘spot the goal’. Yes, this was actually given — and it contributed to changing football forever.

Quiz time 🤔

Did someone say it’s Friday?

As if productivity levels on a Friday needed any more dampening, welcome to a new weekly trivia feature. The first question: Name the five players who have appeared in the Premier League in both 2023-24 and 2007-08? Stuck? The answer will be available here at 11am ET (4pm UK time) or we’ll also let you know the answer in Monday’s newsletter.

Around The Athletic 📖

Players under the microscope 🔬

Catch A Match (Selected Games)

Friday, April 26

🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 Championship: QPR vs Leeds United (3pm ET / 8pm UK — ESPN+, Sky Sports Main Event). Leicester City will be promoted if Leeds lose — sealing an instant return to the Premier League.

Saturday, April 27

🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 Premier League: West Ham vs Liverpool (3pm ET / 12.30pm UK — USA Network, TNT Sports 1). If Liverpool are to get back into the Premier League title race, it is likely they must win all four of their remaining games — and even that might not be enough.

Sunday, April 28

🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 Premier League: Tottenham vs Arsenal (9am ET / 2pm UK — USA Network, Sky Sports Main Event). There has not been a north London derby this late in the season, with one of the teams chasing the title, since Arsenal won the league at White Hart Lane in 2004. Stakes are high.

(Top photos: Greater Manchester Police and Getty Images; design: Eamonn Dalton)

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