HULL and ex-Sunderland boss Steve Bruce has questioned the conviction of rapist Ched Evans and says the footballer should be given a chance to play again.
Evans, who was convicted in 2012, was released from prison in October. He has seen possible moves to a number of clubs, including Hartlepool United and most recently Oldham, collapse amid public outrage.
The 26-year-old has been refused the right to appeal his conviction, but the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) is considering his case.
Bruce said: “I can only say on behalf of myself, I know I might be upsetting people but there is a question of the rape and how he’s been convicted by a jury.
“When you look at the evidence, it is there for appeal.”“
He added: It has divided opinion of course. When you look at the case in detail - and I don’t think most people have really, because they have just seen Ched Evans as a convicted rapist - but when you look at the case and the evidence then certainly Ched has got a case.”
Bruce said he had spoken to Oldham chairman Simon Corney and offered his support before the League One side ended their attempt to sign the Welsh striker on Thursday.
“I have to be honest and say yes (I was in contact with Oldham),” he said.
“I’ve known Simon for a lot of years now. He’d looked at the case too. He was of the opinion to give the kid a chance.
He added: “I’m a big believer that if you have done your time everyone deserves a second chance, we have seen footballers involved with accidents and being given a second chance.
“It’s a very difficult situation for everyone concerned. It’s a pity they could not have the appeal and get it over and done with.
“For me the appeal can’t come quick enough for Ched. It must be a frustrating and difficult time for him and I think the events of the appeal, for me, will see Ched be allowed to play football again.”
The CCRC is an independent public body that reviews possible miscarriages of justice in the criminal courts of England, Wales and Northern Ireland and refers cases to the appeal courts.
Taylor, the Professional Footballers’ Association chief executive, apologised for comparing the attempt to clear Evans’ name with the campaign for justice being conducted over the Hillsborough disaster, where 96 Liverpool supporters died in April 1989.
Taylor sought to clarify his comments on Friday morning, telling Sky Sports News: “The point I was making was not to embarrass or upset anybody at all among the Liverpool supporters. I’m very much an admirer of them and they know that.
“That was never my intention but it was the fact that how things at one time can be perceived one way but come out very differently with the passage of time.
“If people feel that way (offended) about what I said, I can only apologise.”
Evans, now 26, was jailed in April 2012 for raping a 19-year-old woman. He maintains the sex in a Rhyl hotel was consensual and protests his innocence. He was released from prison in October, after serving half of a five-year sentence.
Evans blamed ‘mob rule’ for his move to Oldham collapsing on Thursday and for the first time apologised to the woman he was found guilty of raping. However the former Sheffield United striker still maintained his innocence in regards to the rape conviction.
Shadow sports minister Clive Efford has urged the FA to cancel Evans’ playing registration.
Dyke, speaking for the first time about the Evans situation, said: “Rape and sexual violence are abhorrent and unacceptable. This cannot be overstated.
“We have reviewed the Ched Evans case in some detail at the FA and we have examined both the legal requirements and our rules and regulations and there is no basis for us to intervene directly in this particular case.
“That said, it is important that we continue to look at the issue of behaviour and attitudes within football, and recognise the unique privileges and responsibilities that come with being a participating member of the national game.
“I would encourage the game to consider and discuss this matter and the prospect for future guidelines or codes of conduct. The FA will certainly be considering it in line with our own ongoing review of what constitutes public or private communications and behaviour.”