FA must take time to consider how it deals with convicted criminals, says expert

A leading sports law expert has urged the Football Association (FA) to take time to consider how it moves on from the Ched Evans saga.

Convicted rapist Evans saw a move to Oldham Athletic fall through this week as the Boundary Park outfit bowed to external pressure, making a return to football look increasingly unlikely for the Welsh striker.

The collapsed deal followed similar public outrage when Evans, who was released from prison in October after serving half of a five-year sentence, was invited to train with former club Sheffield United.

FA chairman Greg Dyke stated on Friday that the governing body saw "no basis" to "intervene directly" in the Evans case, but Jack Anderson - a law professor at Queen's University Belfast - has urged a measured approach to planning how to deal with similar cases in future.

"The Ched Evans case is a relatively unusual scenario and there's a lot of intense speculation about it," he told Perform. "If I was giving the FA advice on this, with regards to guidelines in the future, it would be to take the time to consider it.

"Pinning a set of rules on one particular case can mean that those particular rules don't endure."

Some who have backed Evans to make a return to the game have pointed to the cases of Lee Hughes and Luke McCormick, who both made comebacks after being convicted of causing death by dangerous driving.

And Anderson says football's law makers will have some difficult questions to consider regarding how they deal with convicted criminals moving forward.

"It's a very difficult and sensitive issue and, with the Ched Evans case, the question that has to be asked is: Is there an extra stigma when it comes to someone who is a sex offender?," he continued. 

"Hughes returned to Oldham after being involved in a fatal driving crash, and similarly with McCormick.

"In essence they killed people, but they returned to football.

"Then you have Ched Evans, who continues to be on the sex offenders register.

"It's very difficult to have a policy that can encapsulate all of the nuances of what's going on, and anyone who says otherwise is being almost simplistic about it.

"These are difficult and sensitive case-by-case scenarios and they have to be taken in that context.

"I imagine that any potential rule would be pretty similar to the fit and proper rule that applies to owners in the sense that it would be guidelines. Ultimately it is a moral and ethical issue for football.

"These are very sensitive and legal issues, and how that plays out for football is not something that is easily discussed, and certainly not something that could be easily formulated into policy guidelines."