It’s not going to go away so it needs to be dealt with now.
Ched Evans will be released from prison in ten days and a decision has to be made on whether he will be offered a job back at Sheffield United, the club he and his goals were about to take to promotion from League one in April 2012.
That was when he was accused and convicted of raping a 19-year-old woman in a hotel room in North Wales.
Evans still denies rape but admitted having sex with the woman. He was jailed for five years.
Later this month he will be free after serving half his sentence, as is the way of modern justice.
Free to walk the streets, free to live his life having paid his debt to society as ordered by the court.
Free, on the face of it to play football for whoever will employ him.
Sheffield United don’t have to employ him but someone probably will.
On Sunday Gordon Taylor, Professional Footballers’ Association chief executive, released a statement on behalf of the players’ union saying that after a person has served their sentence: “An individual is entitled to be released to continue with his or her life.
“Part of that is a return to their career and that remains the case for professional footballers as it does for any other individual.”
On the face of it Taylor is correct.
But there is anger and indignation from around 60,000 people who have signed a petition saying they don’t want him to play for the club again.
The club, Sheffield and football has a problem.
Footballers are not like bricklayers, salesmen or sheet metal workers, they are public figures who earn a lot of money and carry the hopes of thousands every time they go out to play.
If Sheffield United are going to offer Evans his old job back they should say so.
If they are not they should say so.
The fans are split, the club is split, the city is split.
The club’s moral responsibility is a heavy one but a decision has to be made, and the sooner the better.
Ched Evans will be free in ten days and it is his right to be able to work for any employer that will have him.
It is time Sheffield United told us whether or not they will be that employer.