Two major Sheffield United shirt sponsors have warned they are set to pull the plug on their deal with the club if convicted rapist Ched Evans is re-signed.
Back-of-the-shirt sponsors DBL Logistics said in no uncertain terms that it will end its deal with United if the club re-remploys ‘a convicted rapist’.
Main shirt sponsors John Holland Sales also said it would rethink its position if Evans signs for the club again.
The DBL Logistics statement in full 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, 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.
“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.”
John Holland Sales Ltd released a statement outlining that it will remain a shirt sponsor for the Blades while Evans is only training with the club.
But should the player be signed by Sheffield United, the car sales firm may rethink its involvement with the club.
Its statement in full said: “John Holland Sales Ltd today commented on its business relationship with Sheffield United Football Club, following the announcement yesterday that its former player Ched Evans has been allowed to train with the Club after a request from The Professional Footballers’ Association.
“The Club has confirmed to John Holland Sales Ltd that the player has not been re-employed. The training is with a view to enable Mr Evans to return to a level of fitness which might allow him to seek employment within football.
“John Holland Sales is a long established family business and condemns rape and violence of any kind against women in the strongest possible terms.
“Whilst ever the ‘ex player’ is not employed by Sheffield United Football Club, John Holland Sales Ltd remains committed to its commercial partnership.
“Should this situation change John Holland Sales will re-evaluate its position as shirt sponsor.”
The Star Editor’s opinon: No way back for Ched Evans
The statements follow news that singer Dave Berry, businesswoman Lindsay Graham and former Sky Sports News presenter Charlie Webster have today all pulled out of the Sheffield United Community Foundation after the club allowed Evans to train.
The remaining members include Game Of Thrones actor Sean Bean, former United player Bob Booker, The Housemartins singer Paul Heaton, 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.
Sheffield United yesterday said they had considered the views of staff, the Football League and the PFA, as well as United supporters and the general public, as expressed in “emails, social media comments, editorials, supporter websites, public petitions and media coverage”.
They also considered the PFA view that footballers should be treated equally before the law, in terms of being allowed to be rehabilitated.
The club also said Evans - who protests his innocence - acknowledged “the destructive nature of the acts which led to his conviction”.
Sheffield United said they condemned rape and violence against women in the “strongest possible terms”.
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.
PAn appeal against Evans’s conviction was rejected by three judges at the Court of Appeal in 2012. His case is due to be looked 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.