Blades retract Evans offer to train with club

Sheffield United have retracted an offer for convicted rapist Ched Evans to train with the club.

The League One club opted not to retain the striker following his conviction in April 2012 and he was released from prison last month after serving half of a five-year sentence.

United subsequently published a statement on November 11 saying that the 25-year-old had been invited to train with the club at the request of the Professional Footballers' Association.

That has proven highly controversial, though, with Olympic heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis-Hill stating she would want her name removed from United's Bramall Lane stadium if Evans were to be re-hired.

Four club patrons also resigned over the decision to allow Evans to train, and the team's two main kit sponsors threatened to walk out.

And United have now reversed their offer, stating they were unaware of the furore it would cause.

"Following the statement dated 11th November and after ongoing and extensive deliberation, 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," read a statement on the club's official website.

"Members of the board have consulted dispassionately with the club's supporters, vice presidents, community foundation members, executives, staff, sponsors and other relevant stakeholders in order to help it reach this decision.

"Also, the club has been diligent in communicating with The Football Association, The Football League, The Professional Footballers' Association, The Football Association of Wales and The National Probation Service to take further soundings.

"We recognise that a number of our supporters will be disappointed with this decision, but would ask that they remember the responsibilities we have not only to a fine and proud club, whose history stretches back over 125 years, but also to the communities in which Sheffield United is active and to the City we represent.

"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.

"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."