Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins has urged Spireites to take into consideration fans’ concerns over the signing of Ched Evans.
The politician revealed he was sounded out about the signing, of a player awaiting a retrial over a rape allegation, before it became public knowledge
And he’s keen to see Chesterfield FC protect their reputation as a family club.
Mr Perkins said: “I was made aware that the Club had agreed terms with Ched Evans, and am aware that there has been a great deal of local and national interest in this signing.
“I am grateful to Chesterfield FC for informing me of their signing of Mr Evans in advance, and for responding candidly to the questions that I put to them.
“We should never forget that whilst Ched Evans original verdict has been quashed and he awaits a new trial, so too there is also a young woman who five years after the incident also has her life on hold whilst waiting for a definitive verdict. Mr Evans is right to say that there have been no winners from this whole affair.”
While many supporters have welcomed the arrival of a proven goalscorer, others have raised concerns over the negative publicity the club might receive from being associated with a controversial figure.
And a minority of fans have spoken of not attending matches while Evans is a Spireite.
Mr Perkins said it was important for the club to take seriously fans opposed to the move.
“I already know that there will be fans who support the signing and others who don’t,” he said.
“However this is not just another addition to the playing squad, and whilst recognising the limitations imposed on what can be said by a further trial, I hope that the football club can take this opportunity to emphasise that offering a player a second chance does not in any way condone actions taken in the past.
“It would be terrible if the good work done to place the football club at the heart of the community as a family club was undone in any way.
“Similarly, every effort must be made to ensure that the bond between fans and the club is not broken.
“When fans who have supported the club for a long time feel that they don’t want to be associated with it any more, this should be a serious concern.”
And the MP urged both Evans and the club to ensure their reputation as a family club was upheld.
“Mr Evans’ statement about wishing to contribute to the club and the community are welcome, he has a big responsibility to conduct himself, and encourage others to conduct themselves, in a way that shows respect for and wins the respect of, all supporters.
“Chesterfield Football Club must remain a club respected in the local and footballing community, that promotes the best values of respect for all men and women and is a true family club.”