Convicted rapist Ched Evans has been offered a lucrative contract to re-sign for his former football club Sheffield United it has been claimed, just a day after being released from prison for rape.
Evans, 25, left Wymott Prison in Lancashire in the early hours of Friday morning, after serving half of his five-year sentence for the rape of a 19-year-old woman in 2011.
He returned to his home town of Rhyl, north Wales, for a reunion party with his family and friends and girlfriend Natasha Massey, who has stuck by his side and, along with Evans, has consistently denied he raped the woman.
More than 150,000 people have signed an online petition calling on Sheffield United, the club where Evans played as a striker, not to re-sign him. Some die-hard fans called on the club to take a tough stance, and vowed never to watch Evans play for the League One team if he rejoins the club.
The Sun reports that Sheffield United have offered Evans a two-year, £5,000 a week contract to re-sign, and could be back training as soon as next week.
The source claimed: "He's expected to sign it because he wants to get back to playing football. Sheffield United are the only club to have made him an offer and have been waiting for him to be released before announcing it.
"He's going to be loyal to them, because the club's stuck by him. They've told him he needs to publicly apologise and, although he still considers himself an innocent man, he knows saying sorry will help his public image."
A statement on behalf of Evans released yesterday said: "Ched is now adjusting to normal life after serving a sentence for a crime consistently denied." He is expected to make a public video statement this week.
Evans admitted having sex with the victim in May 2011, but the woman told jurors she could not remember the incident. The prosecution argued she was too drunk to have been able to have given consent to sex.
Another footballer Clayton McDondald was cleared of rape.
Since the attack, the identity of Evan's victim was revealed after she was named by more than 6,000 people, including members of Evans' family, on Twitter. Nine people were each fined more than £600 after naming the victim on Twitter.
In fear of future abuse, the victim has been assigned a new identity by police. She is said to have had to cut ties with her friends and family, who say she has "been through hell".
A relative of the victim told The Sun: "We don't see her very often and she is trying to get on with her new life now. People are saying she's had a £50,000 deal to talk about her ordeal. Obviously that's not true. If people are brave and confident then they can probably do it – but she's not that type of person. She's a young girl, a timid little thing, and she's had to go through such a lot. She just wants it to end."
Dr Fiona Elvines, from Rape Crisis, said: "For her this is going to be hard. One of the impacts of rape is having things like flashbacks – and they can be easily triggered by seeing his name and face everywhere. This makes it incredibly difficult."
She added: "It would be inappropriate to have him back in a position that has such a platform. It sends a really damaging message to all survivors of rape: that rape isn't that bad, even if you get convicted. [It gives the message that] It's not actually that serious and we're going to value football over the lives of survivors."