Sheffield Utd cut ties with convicted rapist Ched Evans
Sheffield United have withdrawn their controversial offer to let convicted rapist Ched Evans train with the League One club.
United announced eight days ago that their 25-year-old former striker would train with them - following a request from the Professional Footballers’ Association to allow him the opportunity to rebuild his fitness after his release from prison.
But the announcement provoked considerable public outcry.
Several well-known celebrities threatened to stand down as club patrons, while Olympic champion Jessica Ennis-Hill said she would want the stand named after her at Bramall Lane to be removed if Evans were to be re-signed by United.
Think before letting him play with you
Britain’s Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg – who is a MP for a Sheffield constituency – also urged United to think “long and hard” before letting Evans play for the Blades again.
The criticism has prompted the third tier outfit into a rethink.
The club said in a statement on Thursday (Nov 20):
“Sheffield United Football Club has decided to retract the opportunity for its former player, Ched Evans, to use the club’s facilities for training purposes, as was previously intended....The club initially accepted a request from the PFA for Ched Evans to be able to train.
The reaction to this has been at an intensity that could not have been anticipated when first announced.” - Sheffield United
Evans was jailed in April 2012 for raping a 19-year-old woman in a hotel room in Rhyl, North Wales.
He denied the offence but was found guilty by a jury at Caernarfon Crown Court.
Evans admitted having sex with her but the woman told the jury she had no memory of the incident.
The prosecution said the woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was too drunk to consent to sexual intercourse.
An appeal against Evans’ conviction was rejected by three judges at the Court of Appeal in 2012.
But following his release from prison, he uploaded a video on his website protesting his innocence and vowed to clear his name.
The United statement said:
“The club condemns rape and violence of any kind against women in the strongest possible terms.
The club is aware that Ched Evans is pursuing legal recourse via the Criminal Cases Review Commission in the determination he has to clear his name. We trust that he will be afforded a fair hearing.”
Labour MP for Sheffield Central, Paul Blomfield, welcomed United’s decision.
“I’m pleased that they’ve listened to the majority and listened to people like Jessica Ennis and made the right decision,” he said in an interview with BBC Radio 5 Live.
“But I do think that some of the reactions this debate has generated has raised some really disturbing attitudes towards sexual violence and I think there are some bigger lessons to learn as well.”
Sources: AFP, Sheffield United,