Ched Evans: Jessica Ennis-Hill 'will remove her name from Sheffield United stand' if footballer is re-signed

Her comments come after Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said he didn't think Evans should be allowed back to the club

Olympic gold-medalist Jessica Ennis-Hill has taken steps to severe ties with Sheffield United, by announcing she would want her name removed from the club’s Bramall Lane stand if convicted rapist Ched Evans is re-signed.

Hers is the latest high-profile voice to denounce Sheffield United for allowing Ched Evans to join training so he can return to fitness.

The football club renamed one of its stands at Bramall Lane after the athlete following her gold medal victory at London 2012.

But the heptathlon champion said in a statement seen by Sky News tonight that “role models” for young people should “set a good example,” and that by handing Evans a contract, Sheffield United would “completely contradict these beliefs.”

“I believe being a role model to young people is a huge honour and those in positions of influence in communities should respect the role they play in young people’s lives and set a good example. If Evans was to be re-signed by the club it would completely contradict these beliefs," she said.

Evans, 25, was released from prison last month after serving half of a five-year jail term and continues to protest his innocence.

Ennis-Hill's comments come after Deputy Prime Minister and Sheffield MP Nick Clegg said that Evans should not have been allowed to return to train with Sheffield United, but indicated that he believed the Welsh international should be allowed to continue his career, possibly with a foreign club.

Mr Clegg said: "Footballers are not just any old employee, they are obviously athletes but they are role models and a lot of kids look up to them.

"This is an incredibly serious offence, a very serious offence for which he has been convicted and that's what sets this apart."

He told LBC Radio: "If it was me, I wouldn't take him on," adding: "He maybe could play for a club abroad for a while before coming back."

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.