Sheffield United sponsor DBL Logistics threatens to pull the plug if the club signs convicted rapist Ched Evans
One of Sheffield United Football Club's top sponsors has threatened to cancel its partnership if the club signs former player Ched Evans who was last month released from prison after serving two years for committing rape - a crime which he still denies being guilty of.
Ched Evans with Sheffield United colleagues
After Sheffield United allowed Evans to train with its players, club sponsor DBL Logistics announced its intention to drop the partnership if the team re-signed the player.
A statement released by DBL Logistics said: “We have been notified by the club that its former player, Ched Evans, has been allowed to train with Sheffield United at the request of the Professional Footballers’ Association, (PFA) following his release from prison on completion of the custodial part of his sentence for rape.
“The club has clarified that the player has not been re-employed. Ched Evans is training with a view to return to a level of fitness which might allow him to seek employment within football. DBL Logistics is a business that has been built with “family values at its core. It strongly condemns rape and violence of any kind against women.
It concluded: “DBL Logistics would end its back-of-shirt sponsorship with Sheffield United if the club employed a convicted rapist. However, whilst the current situation remains and Ched Evans is not contracted to Sheffield United, DBL Logistics will continue its business to business relationship with the club.”
Sheffield United manager Nigel Clough told BBC Radio Sheffield in response to rumours the club were interested in signing Evans: “It has nowhere near been decided that we will sign him, how you can sign a player that has not played football for two years and seven months; I don't think anyone is in a position to do that."
According to the BBC, Gordon Taylor, chief of the PFA, the trade union representing footballers, said: “It is a fundamental part of the justice system in this country and society in general that a person serves the punishment which the court determines is appropriate and, providing that has been done, an individual is entitled to be released to continue with his or her life.”
"Needless to say, as part of that is a return to his or her career and that remains the case for professional footballers as it does for any other individual."
However, the move caused TV presenter Charlie Webster to stand down from her position as a patron of Sheffield United on Wednesday morning, she said: “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."