Ched Evans: Sheff Utd's Phipps 'angry' over training U-turn

Ched Evans
Ched Evans scored 48 goals in 113 appearances for Sheffield United

Sheffield United co-chairman Jim Phipps says he is "angry" they have been forced to deny convicted rapist Ched Evans the chance to train at the club.

The Blades retracted the offer to Evans after heavy criticism and high-profile club supporters speaking out.

"I'm angry that we are not able to get a chance to do for this footballer what should be done," Phipps said.

"The influence of mob-like behaviour has made it difficult to take the simple step of allowing Ched to train."

The American added: "I'm upset that we are not able to do what we wanted to do.

"But I acknowledge that my view is not the only view. My principles and the board's principles are not the only thing that matter.

"I will acknowledge that our decision to not let Ched train is probably a decision that will make it harder for him to get on with his football career in the immediate future.

"The people who believe that Ched should be punished for the rest of his life might call that a victory. I think of it as a defeat for the principle that punishment under the justice system should be left to those that are authorised by law."

Evans, 25, had been invited to train with his former side after being released from prison last month. He had served half of a five-year jail sentence for raping a woman in a hotel room in Rhyl in 2011.

Among those to oppose the Welshman's return was Olympic champion Jessica Ennis-Hill, who stated she wanted her name removed from one of the Bramall Lane stands should he play for the club again.

Evans released a video statement on his website in which he said he wanted to play again

TV presenter Charlie Webster, 1960s pop star Dave Berry and Sheffield businesswoman Lindsay Graham all resigned as patrons of the club, while musician Paul Heaton stood down as a patron of the Blades' community foundation.

Shirt sponsor DBL Logistics also threatened to end its backing should Evans be offered a contract, while more than 165,000 people signed a petition opposing the possible re-employment of their former striker by the League One club.

But Phipps told BBC Radio Sheffield: "Footballers must be treated the same way as everybody else before the law. They should have a right to rehabilitation like everybody else does.

"Ched was convicted and he has served his sentence. He now has a right and an obligation to go about making a livelihood."

The Professional Footballers' Association said on Friday they hoped the Welshman would be given an opportunity at another club.

Ched Evans's career
Manchester City261
Norwich City (loan)2810
Sheffield United11348

Meanwhile, former Watford and England boss Graham Taylor has said he does not think Evans will be able to resume his football career elsewhere.

He told BBC Radio 5 live: "I think they [other clubs] will stay clear.

"I will be most surprised if another club does offer an opportunity, because we've seen what comes with it.

"I think it's a relatively easy thing for clubs to reject him and turn him down but I also understand why they would do it because of the reactions that we have seen".