Paul Heaton
Paul Heaton said Sheffield United need to lift its reputation "out of the gutter"Getty

Former Housemartins and Beautiful South frontman Paul Heaton has resigned as patron of the Sheffield United Community Foundation following the club's decision to allow Ched Evans to train at the club.

The singer is the latest high-profile public figure to sever ties with Sheffield United after club bosses invited the convicted rapist to return to the club to regain fitness, following his release from prison.

TV presenter Charlie Webster, 60s pop star Dave Berry and health expert Lindsay Graham all quit their patron roles in protest at Sheffield United's handling of Evans.

Olympic gold medallist Jessica Ennis-Hill also said she would force the removal of her name from the stand named after her at the club's ground, Bramall Lane, if the Welsh international is offered a new contract.

Sponsors DBL Logistics and John Holland Sales Ltd have also threatened to cancel their deals with the club if they re-sign the striker.

Announcing his decision, Heaton said it is with "great regret" that he has decided to quit his role.

He said: "I would firstly like to salute the bravery of my fellow Blades and patrons in resigning their positions and in particular Charlie Webster, Jessica Ennis-Hill and Lindsay Graham, in standing up for victims of rape everywhere.

"I firmly believe that Ched Evans has the right to rebuild his career in football but rebuilding a career should not involve walking straight out of prison and into the shirt of the club he so badly let down.

"I believe he needs to move away and move on, and the club itself needs to lift its reputation out of the gutter."

Heaton added that, as a way of showing a lead to others involved in this "torrid affair", he will be donating his fee from an upcoming gig at Sheffield City Hall to Sheffield Rape Crisis Centre.

"Finally, I would like to thank the Foundation for its continued hard work in the Sheffield community and wish them the very best for the future," he added.

Evans served two and a half years of a five-year sentence after being found guilty of raping a woman at a hotel near Rhyl, north Wales, in May 2011.

He continues to maintain his innocence, releasing a YouTube video shortly after his release in which he vowed to clear his name.