Shadow sports minister Clive Efford has called for clubs to be barred from signing people on the sexual offenders’ register in the wake of the Ched Evans saga.
Oldham pulled the plug on a deal for former Sheffield United striker Evans on Thursday after a storm of opposition and following another day of controversy when Hull boss Steve Bruce questioned the conviction, Efford has urged the FA to step in.
In other developments, Oldham supporters’ trust chairman Barry Owen resigned from his post - a decision he insists “has nothing to do with recent events or criticism” - while players’ chief Gordon Taylor apologised after appearing to compare the case with the fight for justice over the Hillsborough disaster.
Efford said: “I believe football clubs should not take on anyone on the sexual offenders’ register.
“Clubs are heavily involved with young people and footballers have a status as role models where they can influence young impressionable people.
“The FA needs to set up a clear code of conduct and guidance. Decisions like this should not be left solely to individual clubs where the short-term interests of the club could outweigh the greater good of the game.”
Bruce provoked criticism on social media when he said: “I have to be honest and say yes (I was in contact with Oldham).
“I’ve known Simon for a lot of years. He’d looked at the case too. He was of the opinion to give the kid a chance.
“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.”
Evans, now 26, was jailed in April 2012 for raping a 19-year-old woman. He was released from prison in October after serving half of a five-year sentence.
Evans was refused leave to appeal but his case is going before the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC), which reviews possible miscarriages of justice in the criminal courts of England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
FA chairman Greg Dyke said there was “no basis” for intervening in the case but said the game should now come up with new guidelines.
Dyke said: “We have reviewed the Ched Evans case in some detail 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, 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 ongoing review of what constitutes public or private communications and behaviour.”