The Criminal Cases Review Commission could accelerate their review of evidence submitted by Ched Evans’ legal team as the former Sheffield United centre-forward attempts to quash his conviction for rape.
Although the CCRC had initially been expected to examine his application until 2017, The Star understands that process might now begin before the end of the year as Evans, aged 25, bids to resurrect his career.
The centre-forward was jailed for five years following a trial at Caernarfon Crown Court in April 2012 but is set to be released from HMP Wymott later today.
Speaking earlier this week, United manager Nigel Clough confirmed a decision has yet to be made as to whether the centre-forward, capped 13 times by Wales, will eventually return to Bramall Lane.
Clough’s words reiterate previous comments by Jim Phipps, the League One club’s co-chairman, towards the end of last month where he acknowledged United’s hierarchy are unlikely to make an immediate announcement regarding their position.
“We certainly acknowledge that there are different sides on this and we feel ourselves are no different from everyone else,” Phipps said. “We feel the whole set of issues.
“The other thing which people expect is we will make this decision for football reasons. But this is a special case.
“A decision will be made first about the brand and then we will leave the football decision to the football side of things. We just have to wait, as we are not there yet.”
A petition arguing Evans, who was convicted of raping a woman at a hotel near Rhyl three years ago, should not rejoin United had attracted over 100,000 signatures last night. However Gordon Taylor, chief executive of the Professional Footballers’ Association, recently insisted it would be a wrong to prevent the player, who has repeatedly protested his innocence, from returning to football.
Evans scored 48 goals in 113 appearances for United after leaving Manchester City in 2009.