Sheffield United's patron has resigned over Ched Evans. This is why

Sheffield United's patron has resigned over Ched Evans. This is why

Sheffield United patron Charlie Webster announced her resignation live on air after the club allowed convicted rapist Ched Evans to return to train with the team following his release from prison.

Sheffield United say they have not yet made a decision about whether to re-sign Evans, who played for them before he was jailed for rape in April 2012.

Ms Webster, who revealed in an interview earlier this year that she was sexually assaulted as a teenager, had vowed to quit her role if the club re-signed Evans. Speaking to BBC Newsnight, she questioned why Sheffield United had allowed Evans to retrain with them, saying that it indicated they either wanted to "get him match fit, or to go and be sold in the January transfer window which is not a moral decision or a community decision."

"At no point have Sheffield United acknowledged the extremity of his crime”, she said. “They've not acknowledged the, I think it's over 155,000 people now, that have signed a petition against Ched Evans going back to the club. Nobody's making a decision and I suppose I need to make a decision as patron of Sheffield United.”

I don't believe a convicted rapist - as in Ched Evans - should go back to a club that I am patron of and should go back into the community to represent the community. He's not just going into a job, he's banded as a role model... He's influencing the next generation of young men who are currently still making their decisions on how to treat women and what sexual consent is.

  • Charlie Webster

Evans left prison last month after serving half of his five year sentence. The 25-year-old has maintained his innocence and plans to fight his conviction.

Local MP Paul Blomfield also joined the voices criticising Sheffield United's behaviour, saying in an open letter to the club published on Facebook.

In the statement published yesterday evening, you rightly say that "rape is a heinous crime" and that you do "not question Mr Evans' conviction". You also highlight the right to "rehabilitation under law", with which I strongly agree. Everybody deserves a second chance, but with such serious offences this is based on offenders recognising the gravity of their crimes and seeking to make good for them.

Since his release Ched Evans has not taken this first step towards rehabilitation, but has trivialised his crime by describing it as an “act of infidelity”. So we are considering the case of an unrepentant convicted rapist. To take him back in these circumstances sends a disturbing message to young people and victims of sexual violence about how we view rape.

  • Paul Blomfield, Labour MP for Sheffield Central

More: What happens when you start a petition against Ched Evans

The Conversation (0)