SHEFFIELD, England (AP) - A former Premier League player who was convicted of rape was told Tuesday he can resume training with third-tier club Sheffield United.
Wales international Ched Evans was released from jail last month after serving half of a five-year sentence for raping a 19-year-old woman in a hotel in north Wales. His release prompted a national debate over whether he should be allowed to play professionally again.
In a statement on its website, Sheffield United said it was not making any decision about Evans’ long-term future but has “decided to respond favorably” to a request from the Professional Footballers’ Association to allow him to train at its facilities.
The club said the decision was made to allow Evans to regain a level of fitness that enabled him to find employment in his chosen trade.
Sheffield United added that it had considered the views of staff, official bodies, the union, club supporters and the public as well as statements from the PFA and Evans.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said last month that United should “think really long and hard” before deciding whether to allow Evans back.
“Players these days, they get paid a lot of money, they are public figures and you can’t ignore that,” said Clegg, who represents a Sheffield district in the House of Commons.
Evans, who has played 13 times for Wales, admitted to having sex with the woman but denied raping her. The woman said in court that she had no memory of the incident and the prosecution said she was too drunk to consent.
The 25-year-old Evans is a former Manchester City player. He was playing for Sheffield United before being convicted.
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