Players’ union chief Gordon Taylor has related Ched Evans’ attempt to clear his name to the battle for justice that followed the Hillsborough disaster.
Striker Evans appeared set to sign for Oldham this week, after an offer from his former club Sheffield United to allow him to train was withdrawn due to protests against the prospect last year.
Talks with Oldham ended after the club claimed threats were made to staff, and sponsors indicated they would pull out, with Evans on Thursday blaming “mob rule tactics” for denying him a return to football.
Evans, now 26, was jailed in April 2012 for raping a 19-year-old woman. He maintains the sex in a Rhyl hotel was consensual and protests his innocence. He was released from prison in October, after serving half of a five-year sentence.
An appeal against the conviction was rejected by three judges at the Court of Appeal in 2012 and the case is currently being considered by the Criminal Cases Review Commission.
Professional Footballers’ Association chief executive Taylor mentioned Evans’ situation alongside events that followed the Hillsborough tragedy, which resulted in the deaths of 96 Liverpool supporters at the 1989 FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest in Sheffield.
Taylor said on BBC Radio 5 Live: “He wouldn’t be the first person or persons to have been found guilty and maintain their innocence and then be proved right.
“If we’re talking about things in football we know what was alleged to have happened at Hillsborough and it’s now unravelling and we’re finding it was very different to how it was portrayed at the time, indeed by the police at the time.”
A decades-long legal battle by families of the Hillsborough victims led to the quashing of earlier inquest verdicts. A jury is hearing new inquests in Warrington before coroner Lord Justice Goldring.
Taylor has said there are no other clubs, to his knowledge, interested in signing former Wales international Evans.
He added: “It’s not looking good for him at the moment.”