It’s a topic which has spread beyond your usual football debate with your mates. It seems the nation has an opinion on whether Ched Evans should ever play football again.
On the 20th of April 2012 Sheffield United striker Ched Evans was convicted of rape following a night out in Wales.
Evans has maintained his innocence throughout, and is still battling to clear his name through appeal. The public will know before the end of 2015 whether this appeal was successful, or not.
Evans has shown no remorse to his victim throughout the whole ordeal. This has worked against him quite badly, with people condemning him for showing no remorse. But some would suggest should he publicly show remorse, it would be an admission of guilt.
At this moment in time, Evans is a convicted rapist, and he was found guilty of this sentence in the court of law. There is no immediate escape from that tag, and this is where the problem with him returning to football lies.
Evans was supposed to be a role model to football fans of not only the clubs he represented in England, but Wales too. This is a man who represented his country 13 times, and in that time he will have inspired a nation of young, aspiring footballers.
Had Evans had no links to football and was just a normal, working class man, he may have found it easier to get back into work. But football is played in front of one of the largest audiences possible, even at League One level, where he was nearly given a contract following his release. But come on, can he ever be classed as a responsible role model again? The answer is no, and it is just another factor contributing against his return in any form.
No football club can touch him as it stands. We’ve seen Oldham and Sheffield United, his former club; go through the same rough treatment from the media and fans alike when they showed an interest. And rightly so, as it stands he’s a convicted rapist, let’s not forget.
Sheffield United’s club patron Jessica Ennis threatened to sever her ties with the club should they allow him to train with the team. This was alongside a petition signed by more than 150,000 people who wanted Evans movement back into football to be blocked.
Then Oldham announced their interest, and major sponsors for the club threatened to pull the plug on their deals. But the major factor came when members of the board’s family were threatened if they were to sign him. The club immediately terminated their intention to sign him, despite the deal being ‘80% done’ at one point, according to the club’s chairman. You really have to wonder what would have happened had Oldham actually got his signature in ink, if the reactions above happened before pen had even been put to paper.
There have been comparisons to other footballers that are ex-offenders. These players served their time, and upon release came back into playing football. Lee Hughes was signed by Oldham Athletic following his release from prison. He was convicted of causing death by dangerous driving, and served three years in prison, half of his sentence. It’s been said surely that sets the standard.
By autumn the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) will have made their decision based on the defendant’s appeal. The decision could see the rapist tag removed and this would of course mean a return to football would be much more likely.
For now though, Ched Evans is simply untouchable, and it is likely that will not change.