However unpalatable it is to say it, Ched Evans quite simply has to be given a chance to carry on his employment as a professional footballer.
Why is it that Lee Hughes, Luke McCormick & Marlon King all came back into the game after periods spent at her majesties pleasure without this kind of blanket media coverage, frenzied hysteria and general hullabaloo? Former Newcastle United striker Nile Ranger still gets chance after chance to be a well-paid footballer despite repeatedly breaking the law himself.
Evans has undoubtedly committed a despicable crime. I am not intending to trivialise this offence and it is easy to see why it doesn't sit well, especially with high profile women involved with Sheffield United, including Jessica Ennis, who has spoken out against him returning to their club and to the game in general. Evans' own appeal confirms that he clearly thinks he is only guilty of a seriously bad drunken judgement call rather than a premeditated act of evil.
Other former footballers, including those listed above, have each committed serious crimes and have since been welcomed back to the football bubble without their new employers' club patrons resigning, MP's getting involved and half the country throwing in their two penn'eth. Whilst I don't condone the moronic, aggressive and almost Neanderthal like chanting of Evans' name by Blades fans into TV cameras outside Bramall Lane recently; the fans clearly don't have an issue, in the majority, with having him pull on a red and white shirt again.
It will sit uncomfortably with many, until he scores his first vital goal when the anger and hatred would quickly dissipate.
The whole issue comes down to a simple list of three questions and answers.
1) Has he committed a heinous crime?
2) Has he served his prison sentence?
3) Should he be given the right, like any other human being (barring doctors/teachers/lawyers) to carry on his employment with the profession he knows and had dedicated his life to before his conviction?
I contend that you cannot treat him differently to others who have trod his path before him and should our very own Bolton Wanderers make an attempt to sign him then shouldn't we give him a chance on this basis, like any other club might? There is no indication that the club are even considering such a move, however.
The alternative is that a precedent will be set where the vehicle of social media and high profile figures throwing their opinions about stops the natural process of rehabilitation of criminal offenders.
If there is no hope of reintegrating back into the life they would like to lead on release, where is the motivation to reform?
A decent, civilised, and democratic society simply has to give chances to those who have served their time, otherwise we may as well just bring back capital punishment and be done with it.