Heaton resigns from Blades role

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Published: Tuesday 18th November 2014 by The News Editor

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Former Housemartins and Beautiful South frontman Paul Heaton has resigned as a patron of Sheffield United’s Community Foundation over the club’s decision to allow convicted rapist Ched Evans back to training.

The singer, who said he made the decision with “great regret”, said the club needed “to lift its reputation out of the gutter”.

TV presenter Charlie Webster, sixties pop star Dave Berry and Sheffield businesswoman Lindsay Graham have all resigned as patrons of the club since Evans returned to training.

Olympic athlete Jessica Ennis-Hill asked for her name to removed from a stand at the club’s Bramall Lane ground if Evans returns full-time.

Heaton told Channel 4 News: “I’m not saying Ched Evans shouldn’t be given a second chance. What I was most worried about, and the reason for resigning my position, was he was going to be given another chance at the place of work he was at when he committed the offence.

“Football is unique in the sense that if it was any other normal job he wouldn’t be considered for a position in that same place of work.

“The least Mr Evans can do is distance himself, rather than walking out of prison into a Sheffield United shirt. I don’t think that’s rehabilitation at all. I don’t think there’s any remorse there.

“I just think you have to move on from the place where it was done and I think everybody would benefit from that.

“He’s got the human right to be a footballer but I think it makes common sense he doesn’t do it at Sheffield United. I don’t believe he can’t be rehabilitated and I don’t believe people should serve a life sentence.”

On United’s stance, Heaton added: “If there’s anything my club is guilty of, it’s not showing leadership.

“I think the club has to come out with some sort of statement, not only on Ched Evans, but where they stand.”

Meanwhile, The Professional Footballers’ Association of Ireland defended Evans on their official website, claiming he could be innocent and that, even if guilty, he deserves a chance of redemption.

The article, written by the association’s solicitor, Stuart Gilhooly, refers to Evans’ crime as alleged despite the fact he was found guilty in court and served half of a five-year prison sentence.

Gilhooly wrote: “This crime, as alleged, was at the bottom end. There was no violence and thankfully the victim has no recollection of it. This, I hasten to add, does not make it right, or anything close to it, but it is nonetheless a mitigating factor.

“It’s not easy to muster up too much sympathy for Evans but there is surely nothing worse than being accused of a crime which you genuinely believe you didn’t commit.

“The argument against that is that a jury convicted him of the crime. The same applied to the Guildford Four and the Birmingham Six. They got no public sympathy either.”

He added: “How can Evans apologise? He is convinced, and has a good argument, that he is not guilty of rape. If he apologised, then he is admitting a crime he feels he didn’t commit. Who would do that?

“But Ched Evans has served his time, whether he is innocent or guilty. He puts the ball in the net so eventually someone will take a chance on him.”

Published: Tuesday 18th November 2014 by The News Editor

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