Musician Paul Heaton has become the latest Sheffield United Community Foundation patron to quit his role over Ched Evans - saying the club ‘needs to lift its reputation out of the gutter’.
The Housemartins and Beautiful South star announced this afternoon he would follow in the footsteps of singer Dave Berry, Sky Sports News presenter Charlie Webster and businesswoman Lindsay Graham in quitting the foundation.
In a statement on his Facebook page, Mr Heaton said he was quitting with ‘great regret’ and added he would be donating his fee from his next gig in Sheffield to the city’s rape crisis centre.
It was revealed last week that Evans was being invited back to train with United at the request of the PFA following his recent release from prison.
Mr Heaton said: “It is with great regret that I announce my resignation as patron of Sheffield United Community Foundation.
“I would firstly like to salute the bravery of my fellow Blades and patrons in resigning their positions and in particular Charlie Webster, Jessica Ennis-Hill and Lindsay Graham, in standing up for victims of rape everywhere.
“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, and the club itself needs to lift its reputation out of the gutter.
“As a way of showing a lead to others involved in this torrid affair, I will be donating my fee from this month’s Sheffield City Hall gig to Sheffield Rape Crisis Centre.
“Finally, I would like to thank the Foundation for its continued hard work in the Sheffield community and wish them the very best for the future.”
The remaining patrons include Game Of Thrones actor Sean Bean, former United player Bob Booker, former Blade Alan Hodgkinson MBE and former boxer Brendan Ingle MBE.
Professional snooker player Ding Junhui, Commonwealth Games gold medallist Nick Matthew and former professional boxer Glyn Rhodes MBE also remain as patrons.
Evans was jailed in April 2012 for raping a woman in a hotel room in Rhyl, North Wales.
The Welsh striker denied rape, 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.
An appeal against Evans’s conviction was rejected by three judges at the Court of Appeal in 2012. His case is due to be examined at by the Criminal Cases Review Commission.
After his release, Evans released a video on his website protesting his innocence and vowing to clear his name.
He scored 42 goals in 103 games for the Blades, having previously played for Manchester City and Norwich City.