Reports that shamed footballer and convicted rapist Ched Evans is returning to training with his former club has reignited angry calls for Sheffield United to cut all ties with the striker.
The 25-year-old Welsh international will return to training later this week, only a month after he was released from jail, according to the BBC.
This news provoked an outcry on social media, echoing the reaction after his release last month when United refused to confirm whether they will re-sign the player.
The club has still not indicated whether Evans will be signed but today’s news has been widely interpreted as the first stage of this process.
The campaign group Object said on Twitter: “Object stands in solidarity with the woman Ched Evans was convicted of raping and all other rape survivors affected by today’s news.”
CMcLaughlin14 said: “Disgraceful that Ched Evans is being allowed to train withSUFC_tweets. They should be ashamed. No-one else would get their job back!”
SimonTOverall said: “Disgusting letting Ched Evans a convicted rapist back into training. ShamefulSUFC_tweets.”
The former Sheffield United striker served half of a five-year jail term after he was jailed in April 2012 for raping a 19-year-old woman in a hotel room in Rhyl, North Wales.
Many Blades fans have called for him to be rehabilitated, but thousands of people have signed an ongoing online petition urging the Bramall Lane club not to welcome him back.
Today’s news pushed the number of signatories over the 157,000 mark.
The striker denied raping the woman, 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.
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 Case Review Commission.
After his release, Evans released a video on his website protesting his innocence and vowing to clear his name.
He said: “It is my hope that I will be able to return to football.
“If that is possible then I will do so with humility, having learnt a very painful lesson.
“I would like a second chance.”
Victims’ groups have condemned the two-minute video message.
Evans scored 42 goals in 103 games for the Blades, having previously played for Manchester City and Norwich City.