Evans seeks return to football

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Published: Wednesday 22nd October 2014 by The News Editor

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Ched Evans has expressed his desire to return to football after serving half of a five-year sentence for rape.

Evans, released from Wymott Prison, near Leyland, Lancashire, last week, confirmed his plans via a video statement on his website on Wednesday afternoon.

In it the 25-year-old says he has ”learned a valuable lesson” and that, should he be able to return to the game, he would do so with ”humility”. He goes on to say that he believes he can be ” a positive influence, not only on the pitch but in the community”.

Evans has vowed to fight to overturn his conviction. He was jailed in April 2012 for raping a 19-year-old woman in a hotel room in Rhyl, North Wales.

Sheffield United, his club at the time the incident took place, have yet to say whether he will be allowed to play for them again.

Many Blades fans have called for him to be rehabilitated, but almost 150,000 people have signed an online petition urging the Bramall Lane club not to welcome him back.

In the video, which lasts just under two minutes, Evans said: ”In May 2011, at a hotel in north Wales, by cheating on my partner Natasha, I hurt the woman I love with all my heart.

”Since that night, I’ve constantly regretted my act of infidelity and the damage that has been done on so many fronts because of it.

”The support that has been shown by Natasha, our friends and family, during the trial and the time spent in prison has kept me strong. It can’t have been an easy thing to have stood by someone who the court found guilty of such a destructive act. I will be forever grateful.

”Even though I have been released from prison, I am determined to continue the fight to clear my name and it is public knowledge that an application to refer my case back to the Court of Appeal has recently been submitted to the Criminal Case Review Commission by my lawyers.

”The application seeks to demonstrate that the acts I engaged in that night were consensual in nature and not rape. I made an incredibly foolish decision and failed those people who trusted and believed in me – most of all Tasha and our families.

”It is a rare and extraordinary privilege to be permitted to play professional football. Now that I have served the custodial part of my sentence of two and a half years, it is my hope that I will be able to return to football.

”If that is possible, then I would do so with humility, having learned a very painful lesson. I would like a second chance but I know not everyone would agree.

”I don’t believe I have a given right to play again but, for any club to take me on, I have learned a valuable lesson and know that over time I can prove myself to be a positive influence, not only on the pitch but also in the community.”

Evans admitted having sex with the woman but she told the jury she had no memory of the incident.

The prosecution said the woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was too drunk to consent to sexual intercourse.

Port Vale defender Clayton McDonald also admitted having sex with the victim but was found not guilty of the same charge.

An appeal against Evans’ conviction was rejected by three judges at the Court of Appeal in 2012.

Evans’ case is due to be reviewed by the Criminal Case Review Commission in the coming weeks.

Evans scored 48 goals in 113 games for Sheffield United before his imprisonment, including 35 in 42 games during the 2011/12 campaign which was cut short for him due to his trial and conviction.

He has been capped 13 times by Wales.

Published: Wednesday 22nd October 2014 by The News Editor

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