Rapist's return 'above football' - Clough
15 October 2014, 22:02
London - Sheffield United manager Nigel Clough said Wednesday a decision about whether the club should bring back a convicted rapist was "above football".
Former Wales striker Ched Evans is due to be released on Friday, two-and-a-half years into a five-year prison sentence for rape.
Evans has been linked strongly with a return to Sheffield United, the club he was playing for at the time of his conviction in 2012.
However, the south Yorkshire side, who play in the third tier of English football, have faced a storm of protest amid suggestions they might re-sign Evans, with women's groups and anti-rape campaigners launching a petition, so far signed by over 90,000 people, against his possible re-employment by the Blades.
Also read: Newcastle
upbeat over Krul fitness
But Clough said no decision had yet been taken about bringing Evans back to Bramall Lane.
"We have had one or two discussions, we are awaiting a decision and the owners will make that in good time." Clough said.
"I have been involved in decisions, but it is very much a decision for the owners and when the time is right to say something as a club we will do that," the former England international said.
"It is that sort of decision, it's above football level," explained Clough, the son of English managerial great Brian Clough.
"It's my decision whether to put him in the team if he comes back, it's not my decision whether he comes back in the first place, that's theirs.
"Until the decision is made there is no point talking about it.
"It's not been distraction within the camp. First of all he (Evans) is not out (of jail) yet and secondly the club haven't made a decision and until those two things happen it is irrelevant."
Evans scored 48 goals in 113 games for the Blades prior to his imprisonment, including 35 in 42 games during the 2011/12 season, which was cut short in the striker's case due to his trial and conviction.
A jury at Caernarfon Crown Court in north Wales found Evans guilty of raping a 19-year-old woman in April 2012.
Evans admitted having sex with the woman on May 30 2011, but said it was consensual.
The question of whether United should re-employ Evans has been the subject of much public debate in Britain recently, with television presenter Judy Finnigan having to apologise for on-air comments on Tuesday where she said the rape he committed was "not violent" and did not cause "bodily harm".
Finnigan said: "If he does go back, he will have to brave an awful lot of comments obviously from the fans who are there.
"But, having said that, he has served his time, he's served two years.
"The rape, and I am not, please, by any means minimising any kind of rape, but the rape was not violent, he didn't cause any bodily harm to the person. When he comes out, what are we supposed to do, just actually to refuse to let him do his job even though he's already been punished?"