Ched Evans is set to rejoin Sheffield United from Chesterfield, two and a half years after the club withdrew an offer for the striker to train with them following a backlash from fans and patrons.
Evans had a month before that been released from prison after being convicted of a rape which he was cleared of at a retrial last year.
The 28-year-old played for Sheffield United from 2009-12, scoring 42 times in 103 league appearances before being released while in prison. The club expects to pay a fee which could rise to £500,000.
Evans signed for Chesterfield last June, two months after his conviction was quashed but before his retrial, and has seven goals from 29 games in an injury-troubled campaign. He has not scored in his past 11 matches and last featured on 4 March. The former Wales international joined on a one-year deal which was extended by a season in January. Chesterfield have been relegated to League Two and Sheffield United promoted to the Championship.
United’s U-turn over the training offer to Evans in 2014 came after more than 165,000 members of the public signed a petition calling on them not to re-sign the striker and a string of patrons resigned from the club’s Foundation. The Olympic gold-winning heptathlete Jessica Ennis-Hill said she would ask for her name to be removed from the Bramall Lane stand that then bore it if Evans re-signed. Ennis-Hill’s name has since been taken off the stand in an unrelated move.
Evans spent two and a half years in prison after being convicted in 2012 of raping a 19-year-old woman following a drunken night out in his home town of Rhyl, north Wales.
Following his conviction, a well-funded legal and PR campaign that included the offer of a £50,000 reward for information leading to his acquittal was launched by family and friends. The campaign eventually resulted in the case going to the court of appeal in London, where his conviction was quashed. After an eight-day trial, a jury at Cardiff crown court took two hours to acquit Evans.