Ched Evans' mugshot (handout)
Ched Evans' mugshot: the 25 year-old footballer claims he was wrongly convicted of rapeSource: Police handout

Convicted rapist Ched Evans was branded "toxic" amid reports that Sheffield United are preparing to rule out his return.

The 25-year-old was due to begin training with the football club this week after his release from jail last month.

However, a source has revealed that a meeting of club executives on Sunday will back a decision not to let Evans rejoin his former club.

"The club wanted Ched to play for them and expected to get some grief because of that. But they have been blown off course by the strength of the feeling of the general public and people and companies connected to the club," the source told the Sun.

"They feel Ched has become toxic now and he is too much of a divisive figure."

The football club have now lost their first sponsor: BFN Nutrition, which provides health supplements for players. The company had its name on the club's warm-up kit but will ask for those to be removed, according to a report in The Sheffield Star.

BFN Nutrition have instructed its legal team to begin withdrawing support after Sheffield Olympian heptathlete Jessica Ennis-Hill said she wanted her name removed from a stand, if convicted rapist Evans was re-signed by SUFC.

Dan Hatfield, a director at BFN Nutrition, said: "We have supported Sheffield United for years but we don't believe the stance they are taking with regards to Ched Evans reflects what the people of Sheffield want and what the fans want so we have decided to withdraw our support.

"United have been closed and secretive about this issue. We feel the lack of communication to the fans, business partners and sponsors is unacceptable.

"We believe that everyone has the right to rehabilitation, but when they are flatly denying something that has been proved in court we cannot stand back and support them."

South Yorkshire Police stated they were investigating "reports of abusive tweets" against Ennis-Hill.

The athlete said in a statement: "Those in positions of influence should respect the role they play in young people's lives and set a good example.

"If Evans was to be re-signed by the club it would completely contradict these beliefs," she added.

Sources at sports manufacturer Adidas are understood to have backed the move to end their link with him, according to the Sun.

TV presenter Charlie Webster has also said that she will never watch another Sheffield United match if Ched Evans remained connected with the club.

The 32-year-old has stepped down as patron of the League One side. Her spokesman said: "At present Charlie Webster has no plans to attend any Sheffield United games".