Sports. Honestly. Since 2011

Where now for Ched Evans?

It’s a new week and we conclude another episode of the Ched Evans saga, and it has has now been confirmed that the former Sheffield United striker will not be signing for League One’s Oldham Athletic. For the past week, the Greater Manchester club have been involved in an ongoing battle to sign the convicted rapist, but to no avail. Evans, as of today, is still unsure about his future in the game, and looks uncertain whether or not he will play again.

Following his release from H.M Prison Wymott in October 2014, after serving just two and a half years of his five year sentence for rape, Evans has struggled to find a club. Controversy began prior to Evans leaving prison when in April 2014, Sheffield United co-chairman Kevin McCabe and manager Nigel Clough visited him and began discussions about resigning the forward. This led to a petition of which over 150,000 people signed stating that the club should not resign him.

Despite the petition, shortly after his release he began training with his former employers which led to national outrage. Track runner and Olympic gold medallist Jessica Ennis-Hill, who has a stand at Bramall Lane named after her, stated that she would have no further involvement with the club if Evans was to rejoin the south Yorkshire side. Communications broke down and Evans left the club. The following month, League 2 outfit Hartlepool United took interest, with their manager Ronnie Moore declaring he’d like to sign Evans, which ended thanks to the MP of Hartlepool Iain Wright. Shortly after at the beginning of 2015, Maltese side Hibernians offered the striker a contract until June 2015, however was unable to complete this move as he is banned from working abroad due to his conviction.

The question on everybody’s lips is should Evans be allowed to continue his football career? With 42 goals in 103 appearances for the Blades in all competitions over 3 seasons, 35 of which coming in the campaign of 2011/2012 in League 1, you can see why some lower league clubs have expressed interest. And it’s not like we haven’t seen convicted footballers return to the playing field in the past.

In August 2004, West Brom striker Lee Hughes was sentenced to 6 years in prison for causing death by dangerous driving, of which, like Evans, he served half his time. Following his release, he signed for League 1 club Oldham Athletic, and has played for various clubs since, most notably Notts Country, where he scored 59 goals in 128 appearances for the Magpies. Two other players involved in death whilst driving are Adam Chapman and Luke McCormick, Chapman sentenced to 30 months in a young offenders institute whilst McCormick served 4 years of his 7 year and 4 month sentence for killing two children in 2008. Upon their releases, Chapman resigned for Oxford United in 2011 until the end of the season before moving on, whilst McCormick joined Truro City, before Oxford United again gave him a route into professional football signing him for the remainder of the 2012/2013 season.

If Evans does sign for a club, he won’t be the first and sadly probably wont be the last, however he is the first convicted of rape. Others, most notably Marlon King, was given 18 months in 2009 following sexual assault, only to end up signing for Coventry City following his release.

Only recently did Evans issue and apology, albeit relatively weak, following further accusations that he has shown no remorse to the 19 year old girl in question following a night out in Rhly, North Wales, back in May 2011. He remains adamant he is not guilty, claiming that when Judge Merfyn Hughes QC asked him if she had given consent, he simply replied; yes.

I’m sure it will only be a matter of time before Evans returns to the field, but the club that gives him the opportunity is bound sure to have a negative stigma attached for years to come.

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