Yes, we do revel in controversy, of course we do. But when people talk about the media having an influence, it can be exaggerated. Consider Star editor James Mitchinson’s recent strongly worded plea to Sheffield United on the Ched Evans affair, which came after my Telegraph column back on September 4, warning that Evans should be a ‘no-go’.
It is not about wishing to be proved right. Neither of us wanted the club to be under siege. If we had, we wouldn’t have spoken out to try to prevent it. Would we? I can truthfully say that, rightly or wrongly, United’s welfare has been at the heart of my approach to this from day one. I think the club - and maybe one person in particular - has seriously miscalculated. The perception that, through a campaign of silence, United have been trying to sneak Evans back through the door has been damaging, prompting the militant response of partners and sponsors.
The PR crisis has been unnecessary and wholly avoidable. For what? A principle - or the financial value of a one-time £3m signing?
You can argue the moral issue one way or the other to the point where it is hard to separate right and wrong. I would certainly not deny Evans the opportunity to play again. But going straight back to the club he served when he offended just doesn’t look right. What is utterly beyond dispute is that Sheffield United’s reputation has been tarnished. Can one player be worth so much trouble?