Ched Evans: Hartlepool manager Ronnie Moore says he 'wants to' sign convicted rapist

Evans has been without a club since leaving prison

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The Independent Football

An MP has launched a stinging attack against a football club which has said it wants to sign convicted rapist Ched Evans.

Ronnie Moore, who has just taken over as manager of Hartlepool United, has said he would be prepared to sign Evans, who has been without a club since being released from prison in October.

The former Sheffield United and Wales striker, who was released from jail after serving half of a five-year sentence for the rape of a 19-year-old woman in a hotel room in 2011, had an offer to train with his old club but that was withdrawn because of strong local opposition.

TV presenter Charlie Webster stepped down from her role as a patron, while Olympic champion Jessica Ennis-Hill wanted her name removed from one of the stands if Evans played for the club again.

However, Moore, who was named manager this week, said he is looking into the possibility of a deal.

“It’s a possibility,” he said after his side 1-1 draw with Oxford United to stay seven points adrift at the bottom of League Two. “If it could happen, I would want it to happen. He is a proven scorer; he’s served his time and the boy wants to play football.

“If there is a chance he might come here, I don’t see any reason why he shouldn’t.

“He has made a mistake and maybe he hasn’t apologised in the right way – and I know he has an appeal case pending – but if he gets on the park, he would go a long way to getting us out of trouble.”

Hartlepool's Labour MP Iain Wright was outraged at the prospect of Evans signing for the club.

He said: "I really hope we don't. I love my club, I love Hartlepool United. There's a reason why no other team in the Football League wants to sign him - he is a pariah.

"I was at the match today. There were lots of young lads there supporting Hartlepool United. I just think it sends out such a wrong message to young men in terms of it being OK for a rapist to play football. It's entirely wrong."

Moore was seen by some as a controversial appointment because he lost his previous job at Tranmere after breaking rules on betting.

stands at Bramall Lane if  Evans was allowed to play for  the club again.

Two other patrons of the Blades, Dave Berry, the Sixties pop star, and Lindsay Graham, a Sheffield businesswoman, folllowed Webster in resigning.

Moore, who was named manager of Hartlepool last week, said he was looking to see if a deal could be done with Evans.

“It’s a possibility,” the 61-year-old said after his side’s 1-1 draw with Oxford United to stay seven points adrift at the bottom of League Two.

“If it could happen, I would want it to happen. He is a proven scorer, he’s served his time and the boy wants to play football. If there is a chance he might come here, I don’t see any reason why he shouldn’t.

“He has made a mistake and maybe he hasn’t apologised in the right way – and I know he has an appeal case pending – but if he gets on the park, he would go a long way to getting us out of trouble.”

Moore was seen by some as a controversial appointment because he lost his previous job at Tranmere in April after he admitted breaking rules on betting. His appointment at Hartlepool came on the day that the club was taken by a group calling themselves TMH, who have said that they want to involve supporters more closely in the club. It remains to be seen how the club’s fans would react to the signing of Evans.

 

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CHED EVANS TIMELINE

2011

30 May: Ched Evans arrested on suspicion of sexual assault at a Premier Inn near Rhyl, North Wales.

26 May: Evans and fellow footballer Clayton McDonald are charged with rape.

2012

20 April: Evans is jailed for five years for rape and McDonald is acquitted. Evans maintains his innocence.

23 Apr: The Professional Footballers Association is forced to defend itself after Evans is named in the League One team of the year.

Evans is released by Sheffield United at the end of the season.

24 Apr: Evans' lawyers announce he is to appeal against his conviction.

6 November: Evans loses his appeal after his case is rejected by three judges at the Court of Appeal in London.

2014

18 April: An online petition is launched urging United not to re-sign Evans and gains over 165,000 signatures.

17 October: Evans is released from prison after serving half his sentence a statement is released on his website stating he will continue to fight to clear his name.

18 Oct: United release a statement saying they are "continuing to deliberate on any long-term decision" after media reports emerge that they have offered Evans a contract.

19 Oct: The Criminal Cases Review Commission confirm they are to fast-track Evans' case to investigate whether his conviction will be referred to the Court of Appeal.

22 Oct: Evans releases a statement stating his desire to return to football.

11 November: Sheffield United confirm Evans will return to train with the club with immediate effect following a request from the Professional Footballers' Association but state they are "not prepared at this time" to make a decision on whether to re-sign the striker. Meanwhile, television presenter Charlie Webster announces that she has stood down as a patron of Sheffield United.

12 Nov: Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield urges United to change their decision, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg says the club must "think really long and hard" before deciding whether to allow Evans to play for them again, while singer Dave Berry and businesswoman Lindsay Graham join Webster in resigning as club patrons.

13 Nov: Olympic heptathlon champion and Blades fan Jessica Ennis-Hill issues a statement announcing that she has told United she would want her name removed from the Bramall Lane stand should Evans be offered a contract to play for the club.

14 Nov: Police begin an investigation into rape threat tweets directed at Ennis-Hill after her statement over Evans.

15 Nov: Sheffield United release a statement saying they are "appalled" at the abuse levelled at those who spoke out about the club's decision and promising to work with South Yorkshire police to help identify those responsible.

17 Nov: Former Beautiful South frontman Paul Heaton resigns as a patron of United's Community Foundation over the Evans affair. The Professional Footballers' Association of Ireland's solicitor Stuart Gilhooly causes controversy after defending Evans on the organisation's website.

20 Nov: United announce they have retracted the offer for Evans to train with the club.

20 December: Ronnie Moore says he would like to sign the striker for Hartlepool

Additional reporting from PA

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