A non-league football club could sign convicted rapist and former Sheffield United star Ched Evans, it has been reported.
Sunderland-based Ashbrooke Belford House FC – who play seven leagues below the professional football pyramid in the Wearside League – say the forward deserves “a second chance” to rebuild his career.
Negotiations with the former striker are said to have not taken place yet but manager Asa Dobbing and assistant Lee Harrison said their squad have already given their blessing.
Evans was released from prison in October after serving half of a five-year sentence for the rape of a 19-year-old woman in a hotel room in 2011.
In November, Sheffield United retracted their offer to let Evans use their training facilities after the Blades had been heavily criticised.
Several teams have also been linked with a move for the former Wales international but have not come to fruition after public backlashes.
Asa Dobbing, manager of Ashbrooke Belford House, who play at Welfare Park in Silksworth, said: “We would give him a chance.
“Everybody deserves a second chance.
“We do need a centre forward and if he got himself match fit he would get in our side.”
Assistant boss Lee Harrison added: “We have spoken to the squad about it and they have given their backing and said ‘bring him in’.
“We are not condoning what happened in the past.
“We are not sure what the reaction would be from the community.
“Other footballers have been given a second chance, so he should be given one too.”
A petition against the move online has already been signed by 7,000 people after it was launched earlier today.