SHEFFIELD United yesterday bowed to relentless pressure and have reversed their controversial decision to allow convicted rapist Ched Evans to use the club’s training facilities.
The Blades accepted a request from the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) on 11 November and consented to the ex-Wales international training at the club he represented before serving two and a half years in prison.
But the League One outfit have faced a wave of criticism with Olympic champion Jessica Ennis-Hill stating she would want her name removed from a Brammall Lane stand should the 25-year-old play for Sheffield United again.
TV presenter Charlie Webster, pop star Dave Berry and Sheffield businesswoman Lindsay Graham all resigned as patrons of the club, while musician Paul Heaton stood down as patron of the club’s Community Foundation. The wave of fury also led to main sponsors John Holland Sales threatening to end their association with the club if Evans re-signed, with back-of-the-shirt sponsors DBL Logistics echoing those sentiments.
“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,” read a club statement. “We recognise that a number of our supporters will be disappointed with the decision but would ask they remember the responsibilities we have not only to a fine and proud club but also the communities in which Sheffield United is active and to the City we represent. The club initially accepted a request from the PFA. The reaction to this has been at an intensity that could not have been anticipated when first announced.”