Ched Evans: a decision

Finally. It’s taken far too long quite a while, it’s been fraught and it’s been wholly unpleasant. But finally, Sheffield United have come to a decision regarding Ched Evans:

Following the statement dated 11th November and after ongoing and extensive deliberation, 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, as was previously intended.

And, I suppose that means (although it doesn’t actually say so) that he won’t be playing for us again either. And as Paul Heaton pointed out last week, that’s probably a good thing:

I firmly believe that Ched Evans has the right to rebuild his career in football but rebuilding a career should not involve walking straight out of prison and into the shirt of the club he so badly let down.
I believe he needs to move away and move on…

United remain defiant in their statement though:

As noted in previous statements from the Club, the legal system of this country provides for both the punishment and the rehabilitation of every person who has been found guilty of a crime. Sheffield United will not be used to promote the view that professional footballers should be treated differently, as has been the want of certain sections of the media and various commentators. In addition, we remain disappointed at some of the inaccurate reporting, misinformed views and commentary, as well as the actions of a minority of individuals on social media. Professional footballers must be treated as equals before the law.

And yep, I agree with all of that.

But the fact is that this was always going to be a no-win situation for the club. While there obviously isn’t going to be the widespread, media-driven condemnation of this decision as there was with the original training thing was announced, there are a large number of “true” Blades fans who don’t agree with it. They see it as the Board “bottling” it – the local term for running scared or giving way under pressure. They cite (correctly too, I think) the fact that the vast majority of negative comment came from individuals who had and have nothing to do with Sheffield United. Whether that makes those people’s opinions less valid (I think it probably shouldn’t) or less influential (I think it probably should) is still up for discussion.

And supporting that opinion that they buckled to social media pressure, the Board seem to admit that they are nursing a bloodied nose and bruised ego:

During this whole period, we have been served a timely reminder of what we have been throughout our history: Sheffield United is a Family and Community Club that, even in times of adversity, will remain strong and grow from its experiences.

How these “true” fans will choose to react to this decision also remains to be seen, but it seems that as far as Sheffield United go:

The Club will not be making any further comment on this issue.

…it’s case closed.

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