League One side Sheffield United have announced that former player Ched Evans, who was freed from prison last month after a rape charge, will train with the club later this week. Kyle Dixon reports.
Evans was released after completing half of his five year charge for raping a 19 year old woman in a hotel in 2011. There has been big controversy whether the player will return to the sport, but the club are yet to decide whether this will result in a long term signing of the 25 year old.
It is understood that that United contacted the football authorities to notify them of the decision, despite almost 157,000 people signing an online petition against the former Wales international playing professional football again. His contract with the Blades expired during his jail sentence, and the PFA believes Evans should be able to return to a playing career. It seems as though the club now agrees after lengthy internal discussions have resulted in Evans recieving a chance to make a fresh start.
Sheffield United manager Nigel Clough is still to decide whether he wants the striker in his squad, and sources say that the decision to allow Evans to train does not mean a contract is heading his way. Clough has said that any choice regarding Evans will be made by the club’s owners, Prince Abdullah Bin Musa’ad Bin Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia, and Kevin McCabe.
Evans did release a video in which the player, who still maintainshis innonce, pleaded for a chance to play football again. He claimed “the sex was consensual in nature and not rape” and did not offer any sort of apologise.
“It is a rare and extraordinary privilege to be permitted to play professional football. It is my hope that I will be able to return. If that is possible then I will do so with humility having learned a very painful lesson. I would like a second chance but I know not everyone would agree,” he said.
Evans will train for the first time later this week, and any decision regarding a contract will soon be made.
Report by Kyle Dixon.