Dr Kate Cook (leader of the Gender knowledge cluster) appeared on Monday evening’s edition of BBC North West Tonight (5.1.2015) to talk about Ched Evans’s potential return to professional football.
A former Manchester City and Sheffield United player, Evans was convincted of rape in April 2012 and sentenced to five years in prison. Since his release on licence in October 2014, Evans has tried to restart his football career despite denying guilt for the offence and showing no remorse for his victim.
Negotiations with Sheffield United, Hibernians (Malta) and Oldham Athletic all collapsed amid a storm of negative publicity. Commenting on Evans’s potential move to Oldham, Dr Cook said:
[Evans] has been convicted of a serious offence, he has served some time in prison, but he hasn’t accepted that he’s guilty. In fact, he is still pursing an appeal, which of course he has a legal right to do, but bearing all that in mind it’s not appropriate, I don’t think, for him to be appearing for a top-flight football club.
At the time of writing, a petition against Evans’s deal with Oldham reached over 60,000 signatures, and negotiations were subsequently withdrawn. Evans responded that the deal’s collapse was due to ‘mob rule’. However, Dr Cook insists that at this point in time it is inappropriate for any club to sign Evans while he appeals his case and remains unapologetic towards the victim:
He hasn’t apologised; it isn’t over yet. It is still ongoing… The [right] thing to do is to just be quiet and wait a while, maybe. The wheels of justice do wax slow but they will finish. This will come to a conclusion, and in the meantime this is not an appropriate person to be a role model to young people in Greater Manchester. We can do better than this.
Reportedly, life for the victim since Evans’s conviction has been made even more difficult having needed to change her name and abode on five separate occasions. Dr Cook concluded:
I want us to keep the victim in our minds, the women who experience rape, and the terrible cost that rape has on women’s lives.