PFA Statement (Nov 2014): Ched Evans

PFA Statement 08/01/2015

The PFA wishes to clarify its position regarding Ched Evans following recent media reports.

Our previous statements are set out below and our support for Ched remains the same.

We have had some discussions with Oldham Athletic regarding the interest they expressed in signing Ched, although we feel it is important to make clear that, contrary to what has been reported, we were not ‘driving’ any deal. As we understand it, the club and player were in discussions and contact was then made with the PFA as matters progressed given the particular circumstances of this situation and we were simply being asked to publicly reiterate our support for the club in signing him. Despite being ready to offer this from the outset, we were asked to delay whilst discussions between the club and player continued, and we were disappointed to see over the course of this week, comments being made which we feel mischaracterise our limited role in this matter.

The PFA's position remains the same, as we have expressed previously, that any club which decides to sign him would receive our support.

We fully recognise that this is a delicate and emotive case and entirely respect that there are opposing views. However, we always felt it was important that Ched made some further comment regarding his current situation and on that basis, he has asked that we include his comments below:

“I am grateful for the support of the PFA in helping me try to return to football and continue my career.

Upon legal advice, I was told not to discuss the events in question. This silence has been misinterpreted as arrogance and I would like to state that this could not be further from the truth.

I do remain limited at present by what I can say due to the ongoing referral to the Criminal Cases Review Commission and whilst I continue to maintain my innocence, I wish to make it clear that I wholeheartedly apologise for the effects that night in Rhyl has had on many people, not least the woman concerned.

Finally, it has been claimed that those using social media in an abusive and vindictive way towards this woman are supporters of mine. I wish to make it clear that these people are not my supporters and I condemn their actions entirely and will continue to do so.”

PFA Statement: 21/11/2014:

We note Sheffield United's decision to retract the offer they made to Ched Evans for him to return to training with the club.

It is not surprising given the subsequent delay in his return as the matter was debated and understandably strong opinions were aired. We fully understand and respect the opposing views to Ched’s return to Sheffield United and clearly part of the issue related to him returning to the club he was previously with at the time of his imprisonment. With that in mind, it may ultimately be of benefit to both parties to move on and for Ched to look for a fresh start at a different club.

We maintain our general position that the courts determine punishments and a return to society and a contribution to the community through employment is a key element of rehabilitation. We do not agree that society should impose different rules for footballers which go beyond the position of the law. In that regard, it is hoped that Ched will be given an opportunity at another club to return to the job he is trained to do.

PFA Statement: 03/10/2014:

The Professional Footballers’ Association (The PFA) statement in response to the media interest in Ched Evans.

As the representative body for professional footballers in this country, our role includes representing our members in respect of their professional careers. There are occasions where situations in a player’s personal life can impact on this.

As a trade union it is our role to offer help and guidance to all our members whether dealing with success or the utmost difficulties.

We have some current and former players who are in prison or have served time in prison.  Some general points can be made in relation to such situations.

Some of those players maintain that they are innocent of the crime they are charged with whilst others accept that they are guilty; ultimately, any punishment of this nature follows a court process. It is a fundamental part of the justice system in this country and society in general that a person serves the punishment which the court determines is appropriate and, providing that has been done, an individual is entitled to be released to continue with his or her life. Needless to say, as part of that is a return to his or her career and that remains the case for professional footballers as it does for any other individual.

We recognise that these issues can provoke strong feelings however we feel that there must be some recognition that if the justice system determines that an individual has served his or her punishment then it is appropriate to allow them to return to the community. There is always a period of rehabilitation which can continue upon release and we are happy to offer any assistance we can to our members in these situations.

Gordon Taylor OBE, PFA Chief Executive.