New Glentoran signing Jay Donnelly will start the season at the Oval rather than go on loan to Belfast Celtic as originally planned.
Glens boss Mick McDermott said it is due to intense media coverage and social media reaction to the move.
Donnelly served a three-month prison sentence last year for distributing an indecent image of a child.
“The primary reason [for him not going on loan] is the scale and intensity of the media attention,” McDermott said.
“As an employer I have a duty of care and, as a coach, I have player welfare as my main priority.
“To take care of my player I felt it was better for him to be in a full-time environment at Glentoran, training every day with his team-mates and the coaching staff around him.
“Jay has been fine with it, he is appreciative of the opportunity. He has trained with his team-mates and is looking forward to grasping this opportunity with both hands.”
Glens could ‘potentially’ lose supporters over Donnelly signing
Donnelly was charged by the Irish FA with bringing the game into disrepute and suspended from playing football until 1 September 2019.
Last Thursday’s announcement of the former Cliftonville striker’s move generated significant media coverage and a lot of reaction on social media, with a number of Glentoran fans critical of the signing.
McDermott said the club has been in contact with supporters during the last week, and admitted that the east Belfast outfit could lose fans because of the transfer.
“Potentially,” McDermott replied when asked if Glentoran will lose fans over the signing of Donnelly.
“I cannot say that for a fact, but that is always a possibility when there is some controversy around the club.
“But I’m hopeful we can prove that this is about Glentoran Football Club and that when there is positivity about the place this coming season, that we will win those supporters back.”
He added: “We have had discussions with supporters’ clubs and other stakeholders. We have been open and honest with them, they have been open and honest with us, and I can say that things are moving positively forward.
“The supporters are always entitled to give their feedback. It is important that they are given the time to give their opinion. I think when they hear the facts behind why we made our decision, they can come to terms with the decision.
“They may not agree 100% with that decision, but they can at least understand the decisions were made to take this project that we are doing at Glentoran forward.”
I made the right decision – McDermott
Donnelly admitted a charge of distributing an indecent image of a child in November 2018 and was sentenced to four months in prison in January 2019.
The Reds sacked Donnelly after he was given his prison sentence, which was reduced by an appeal judge to three months.
Despite the controversy surrounding the move, McDermott once again insisted he stands over his decision to sign the player, adding that there has been “no overly negative” responses from the Glens’ sponsors.
“I think I made the right decision for the right reasons,” McDermott added.
“It is a decision that we will stand by and it is a decision that, given time, I think will prove to be a positive one for Glentoran Football Club.
“If Jay is playing well, he will be available, just like any other player at the club. He is part of our squad like everyone else, fighting for a place to play in this team.”