Over 60,000 people sign petition urging Sheffield United not to resign convicted rapist Ched Evans upon his release
An online petition to stop Sheffield United from re-signing former player and convicted rapist Ched Evans ha received over 60,000 signatures.
Evans, 25, was convicted of rape in April 2012 and jailed for five years, but he is due to be released in October, with speculation mounting that Sheffield United will bring him back to the club.
Officially, the Blades have made comment on a possible return for the Welsh international, who signed for the club in 2009.
Evans denied raping the 19-year-old woman in a hotel room in Rhyl, in north Wales, but was found guilty by a jury at Caernarfon Crown Court.
He has tried to have his conviction overturned and, in July, applied to the Criminal Cases Review Commission to review the case in the hope it will lead to a new appeal.
The petition is addressed to United's chairman Kevin McCabe, with the cover letter stating:
"Ched Evans was convicted of rape. It was a process of justice. To even consider reinstating him as a player at the same club is a deep insult to the woman who was raped and to all women like her who have suffered at the hands of a rapist."
For the male leaders of the club to endorse him and "welcome him back" is an absolute humiliation to all women who expect the men who commit gross acts of violence against women to pay for what they have done and part of that is relinquishing the celebrity they attained, and in this case used as a tool to facilitate the violence."
"The clear message to young boys and men is that you will be forgiven for this crime. Women will not be believed when they accuse you of that crime even if a court believes them."
"The message given is that men who commit such atrocious crimes will suffer only a small penance whilst the women they attack suffer for the rest of their lives."
"Sheffield United Football Club must not reinforce that message."
With the Blades considered favourites for promotion this season, the impact of bringing Evans back to the club midway through a crucial season could prove too much of a risk for the club.