Since 30 May 2011 (the date of arrest), there has rarely been a day without the newspaper back pages mentioning Ched Evans. Following the guilty verdict on 20 April 2012, and his subsequent release from Wymott prison after serving half of a five-year sentence on 17 October 2014, the debate has now migrated onto his right to continue a once impressive football career.
One argument goes that upon finishing conviction, the offender can begin to look again for employment. Therefore, why can Evans not reignite his footballing profession?
After leaving prison, Evans began to train with his former club Sheffield United. The Professional Footballers’ Association and The Football League backed the Blades’ decision. No one else agreed. 150,000 people signed a petition urging the club not to re-sign him, famous patrons resigned and sponsors threatened to walk away. The club eventually decided against the re-signing.
Sheffield United were not the only club interested in Evans. Hartlepool United manager Ronnie Moore said that he would like Evans to join the club, later backtracking on his offer.
But why not work abroad? Could this be a possibility for Ched Evans? On 2 January 2015, Hibernians F.C. of the Maltese Premier League announced that they had offered Evans a contract until the end of the season. However, the Ministry of Justice issued a statement stating that Evans was banned from working abroad.
The latest update of this saga, came on the January 4th, 2015, when it was revealed that Evans was in discussions with League One club Oldham Athletic. This would not be the first time that Oldham had signed someone straight out of prison. In 2007, the club signed Lee Hughes who had just been released after serving half of a six-year imprisonment for causing death by dangerous driving. Following an online petition signed by 20,000 people and Verlin Rainwater Solutions (the sponsor of Oldham’s main stand) threatening to end its association with the club, a U-turn is expected to be made. A board meeting is due to be held at Oldham on Monday January 5th, with an announcement made the following afternoon.
The principal reason why this controversy has become so prodigious is because the general public are particularly irked by Evans’ maintenance of innocence and his lack of any sort of remorse. Furthermore, although an electrician is allowed to continue his profession, he is not a role model to many kids. Thousands of young children admire footballers, but who would want their kids aspiring to be like Ched Evans!
There are no legal boundaries to prevent Evans from continuing his football career in the UK, but as we have already seen it would be a PR disaster for any club to re-sign the Welshman.
Perhaps it would be wise for football clubs and the general public to await the outcome of the Criminal Cases Review Commission’s review into his conviction.
Yet, the most sad matter of this affair is that the victim, and the effect it had on her life, seems to have been completely forgotten.
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