POLITICS

Ched Evans Could 'Play Football Abroad', Says Nick Clegg

13/11/2014 09:51 GMT | Updated 13/11/2014 11:59 GMT

Chef Evans should consider playing football abroad, Nick Clegg has said.

Sheffield United is under pressure not to re-sign Evans, who was convicted and served a prison sentence for rape. The club has allowed the player to train with the team, but insists no decision has yet been made whether to offer him a new contract.

Speaking to LBC radio on Thursday morning, the deputy prime minister said it was up to the club what to do, but if it was for him to decide he would not take Evans back.

"I wouldn't take him on," Clegg said. "I think football stars play such an important role in the community where their clubs are supported. Footballers aren't just any old employee ... they are role models."

The Lib Dem leader, who is a Sheffield MP, said Sheffield United "has to think long and hard" about what to do. "Maybe he could play for a club abroad for a while before coming back," he added.

He aded: "He played for Sheffield United when the offence took place, when he was convicted. There is a very particular decision for the club that had him on their books when he committed that offence."

Yesterday Sheffield United's shirt sponsor DBL Logistics said it would end its deal with the club if Evans was re-signed. "DBL Logistics would end its back-of-shirt sponsorship with Sheffield United if the club employed a convicted rapist," the company said in a statement. "However, whilst the current situation remains and Ched Evans is not contracted to Sheffield United, DBL Logistics will continue its business to business relationship with the club."

Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield said the club's move "sends a disturbing message to young people and victims of sexual violence".

Three of the clubs patrons have also resigned from their positions after the club allowed Evans to train with the team.