Two more patrons of Sheffield United resign in protest at return of convicted rapist Ched Evans as fans and sponsor threaten boycott
- Patrons resign, sponsors threatens to leave and fans want boycott of club
- Sheffield United is being criticised for allowing Evans to train with the club
- Ex-patron Charlie Webster: ‘Club hasn’t acknowledged extremity of crime’
- Lindsay Graham and sixties pop star Dave Berry have also resigned
- MP and shareholder Paul Blomfield demands Blades reverse decision
- Nick Clegg says club should think ‘long and hard’ before signing Evans
- Shirt sponsors John Holland car sales and DBL logistics warned it would consider tearing up its contract if he his officially re-signed to the club
- 150,000 signed petition demanding Sheffield United refuse to sign him
- Striker has been criticised over his lack of remorse and denies rape
The crisis at Sheffield United deepened today after three patrons quit, fans threatened a boycott and its sponsor warned it would scrap their deal if they try to sign rapist Ched Evans.
The club’s bosses have been accused of ‘dragging the club through the mud’ for bringing the 25-year-old back to training this week.
The former Wales striker will be back on the League One giant’s pitches just a month on from his release after serving half of a five-year jail term for raping a 19-year-old woman in front of friends.
Last night Sky TV presenter Charlie Webster resigned her role as club patron in protest followed by Lindsay Graham and sixties pop star Dave Berry this evening.
Miss Webster, who was abused as a child herself, said: ‘At no point have Sheffield United acknowledged the extremity of his crime. I don’t believe a convicted rapist as in Ched Evans should go back to a club I am a patron of’.
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Making a stand: TV presenter Charlie Webster, left today, has resigned from her role as Sheffield United patron, followed by Lindsay Graham (right), after the club decided to allow convicted rapist Ched Evans to train
Unhappy: Miss Webster, who was abused as a child, says that footballers are meant to be role models and her beloved club is sending the wrong message about attitudes towards women
Berry, 73, said: ‘I find it quite appalling how Sheffield United have responded and handled this.
‘We have had no response from him at all in any apologies or thoughts for the woman or her family.
‘It’s as though he’s rejected it all as if it didn’t happen.’
The singer was a patron of the Sheffield United Community Foundation.
More than 157,000 people have also signed a petition demanding they refuse to sign Evans, while fans on Twitter said they would not attend matches until he is out of the club.
The former Wales striker will be back on the League One giant’s pitches just a month on from his release
Sheffield Central MP and club shareholder Paul Blomfield has today written an open letter to management calling on club to change its decision to let him train there.
He said: ‘The way this issue has been handled by the club is dragging our name through the mud and dividing fans. Yesterday’s decision only makes that situation worse. I really hope that you will reflect further and change your mind’.
Deputy Prime Minister and Sheffield MP Nick Clegg said the club should think ‘long and hard’ before signing Evans.
While shirt sponsors John Holland car sales and DBL logistics warned it would consider tearing up its contract with the Blades if they re-sign Evans because the business: ‘Condemns rape and violence of any kind against women’.
Evans, 25, has always protested his innocence and has since stressed his desire to start playing football again and his former club, who paid him £20,000 a week, are not close to signing him, manager Nigel Clough said today.
Evans was released from prison in October after completing half of a five-year jail sentence for raping a 19-year-old woman.
Webster, best known for her work on Sky Sports, revealed in January that she was sexually assaulted by her athletics coach when she was 15.
Sheffield United risked the fierce backlash on Tuesday night with the confirmation, along with a statement saying that there can be ‘no place for mob justice’ regarding the situation.
As a result Charlie Webster said she wanted no link to the club.
Speaking on BBC Newsnight about her decision, she said:’He is not just going into a job…he is bandied as a role model.
‘I have spoken quite a few times now and I am trying to give victims of sexual abuse a voice in this day and age in 2014 there still is not an education on mutual consent.
‘Why have the club chosen to listen to the PFA and not the thousands and thousands of people who say they do not want him back?’
Ched Evans’ fiancee Natasha Massey, pictured today in Cheshire sporting her large engagement ring
Evans is to marry his fiancee Natasha Massey after proposing shortly after he was released from prison, where he served half of a five-year sentence for raping a 19-year-old girl
Backlash: There has been huge support for a campaign to stop Evans returning to his former club, and other believe as he has only served half his five-year sentence a ban should last for at least that period
The club’s statement read: ‘After due consideration, the Board has decided to respond favourably to the PFA’s request and to allow Mr Evans to train at the club’s facilities.
‘While some have speculated about whether the club will or should invite Mr Evans to return to SUFC as a registered footballer, the club is not prepared at this time to decide that issue.’
The PFA are behind the move that will see Evans take a step closer to resuming his professional career following his release from prison.
Webster revealed in January she was sexually assaulted when she was 15
The statement went on to say that ‘the club condemns rape and violence of any kind against women in the strongest possible terms’ and ‘does not question Mr Evans’ conviction for rape’ but ‘there can be no place for mob justice’.
Evans was jailed in April 2012 for raping a woman in a hotel room in Rhyl, North Wales.
The Welsh striker denied rape, saying the sex was consensual, but he was found guilty by a jury at Caernarfon Crown Court.
The prosecution said the woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was too drunk to consent to sexual intercourse.
It is understood that the 25-year-old former Wales striker, who earned £20,000 a week at Bramall Lane before his conviction in April 2012, will not be paid by Sheffield United.
Port Vale defender Clayton McDonald also admitted having sex with the victim but was found not guilty of the same charge.
An appeal against Evans’s conviction was rejected by three judges at the Court of Appeal in 2012. His case is due to be looked at by the Criminal Cases Review Commission.
After his release, Evans released a video on his website protesting his innocence and vowing to clear his name.
He scored 42 goals in 103 games for the Blades, having previously played for Manchester City and Norwich City.
Webster had warned in October she would quit her role at the club if they re-signed Evans.
And she was immediately branded a ‘hypocrite’ by Evans’ sister Kylie, who retweeted a message the presenter posted in September saying she wanted to get a photograph with former heavyweight boxing champion and convicted rapist Mike Tyson.
Evans’ sister, who also maintains the footballer’s innocence, pointed to a tweet which Miss Webster posted on September 10.
It reads: ‘Just bumped into Mike Tyson in the hotel lobby as I was randomly talking about him! I chickened out on asking for a photo…damn.’
Evans’ sister tweeted: ‘This is the same Charlie Webster that’s just threatened to leave United. Hypocrite.’
Opposite view: Some Sheffield United fans have been chanting for Ched Evans and carrying flags with his name during games since his release
Tyson was convicted of rape in 1992 after an incident the previous year and subsequently served three years of a six-year sentence.
Responding to the tweet, Webster said: ‘I am not going to stand her and say she said this, I said that.
‘I am not going to comment on her but I have apologised and find it very sad that’s taken away from what I said this morning.
‘I did not think about that tweet at the time and I’m not proud of that tweet but the response has been another example of berating someone for speaking out against rape.
‘But I am not thinking about Mike Tyson. I am thinking about Ched Evans. The reason people don’t stand up to rape is because they get abused on Twitter for it.
‘The victim has had to take on a new identity and had a hate campaign against her. Nobody should have to go through that. I would ask the community to get behind the victim.’
It is thought Evans, pictured with Massey before he was convicted, did not want to propose from jail
On September 10, the presenter tweeted her regret at not getting a photo of convicted rapist Mike Tyson
FULL CHARLIE WEBSTER TRANSCRIPTION FROM NEWSNIGHT INTERVIEW
‘Sheffield United haven’t made a statement for four months and today, in fact, I had a conversation with the Chairman. It was a positive conversation and I walked away from that…I read the statement and I looked at what the club were saying, and the stance that they’ve taken and the stance that the PFA have taken. ‘At no point has anyone made a decision and Sheffield United still haven’t made a decision. They’ve succumbed to the PFA, the PFA have asked if they trained with him, the FA have said it’s a ‘dilemma’ and at no point have Sheffield United acknowledged the extremity of his crime.’
‘Over 155,000 people now have signed a petition against Ched Evans going back to the club. Nobody’s making a decision and I suppose I feel that I need to make a decision as patron of Sheffield United. My decision, which I informed the club earlier on, is that I resign as patron of Sheffield United and Sheffield United Community Foundation, which is all about inspiring the next generation through sport.’
‘My decision is based on the fact that no convicted rapist, as in Ched Evans, should go back to the club that I am patron of, and go back into the community and represent the community.’ ‘He’s not just going into a job, he’s bandied as a role model and we cheer him on as a role model, and he’s influencing the next generation of young men who are currently still making their decisions on how to treat women and what sexual mutual consent is.’ ‘I currently haven’t had a response from the club but as I said I did have a conversation [with the Chairman] which was very positive and friendly earlier on. They said to me that they still haven’t made a decision but they have made a decision to let him come and train back at the club.’
‘I hope [that what I say now will have an impact]. I’ve spoken quite a few times now and now I’m here speaking to you. I’m trying to, I suppose, give victims of sexual abuse a voice because I think in this day and age, in 2014, we’re a rich society – rich in education as well – and still there isn’t an education on mutual consent.’
[On the fact that Ched Evans has served his time] ‘The PFA are the player’s union so of course [Gordon Taylor] is going to say that – his interest is only for the players and to make sure the players get the best out of their situation. ‘It’s the same union that has recently been sued for sexism because it didn’t allow a woman into a dinner, so I don’t know what you would take from the PFA. ‘Why have the club chosen to listen to the PFA and not the tens of thousands of fans that say they don’t want Ched Evans back at the club…’
Webster said: ‘At no point have Sheffield United acknowledged the extremity of his crime’ on Newsnight
‘The point you’ve just made is that he scores goals, so why would the club bring him back to train? To me that’s for one of two reasons: the club are bringing him back to get him match fit to play, or they’re bringing him back to train him up to be sold in the January transfer window which is not a moral decision or a community decision, which clubs say they are all about. They are the heart of community. You cannot have it both ways.’
[On the crime being sexual] ‘There’s a lot [on the Wikipedia list of sports star’s crimes] so maybe the FA, instead of saying ‘This is a dilemma’ which is what the Chairman Greg Dyke said, he should maybe do his job which is impose rules. ‘Maybe the FA should make rules so that players can be told what they can and can’t do. In my mind they can’t go and rape and then go back into their job to influence the next generation. To me, it is personal, because I can comment on sexual abuse because I have been sexually abused, but also because I’m the patron of this club and of the Foundation, and I was brought up in the community of Sheffield, and I’m worried about my community.’
‘A lot of the fans have spoken up but the fans who are supporting Ched Evans maybe need to look at their own families and imagine what it would be like if it was their daughter or their wife or their mother, because one in five women in this country are sexually abused, which is a statistic that shouldn’t exist in 2014. ‘The reason why is because nobody speaks about it and the reason why nobody speaks about it is because they get abused. Me speaking about it, I’ve been abused; the lady that started the petition, she’s been abused…I got told I should have a slap around my face to get myself back in order.’
Evans scored 42 goals in 103 games for the Blades, having previously played for Man City and Norwich City
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2830992/Sheffield-United-patron-Charlie-Webster-resigns-club-role-protest-decision-allow-convicted-rapist-Ched-Evans-return-training.html#ixzz3ItclwSRg
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