MANCHESTER CITY has apologised after the club reportedly gave children as young as six certificates featuring a photo of rapist footballer Ched Evans.
It emerged yesterday that youngsters attending club coaching sessions were sent home with certificates that featured stars who came through the City’s Academy programme, including Evans.
He was at the Manchester club for eight years before moving to Sheffield United.
Evans is at the centre of controversy over whether and how he will return to football following his release from prison last month after serving half of a five-year sentence for raping a 19-year-old woman in Rhyl in North Wales.
He has always maintained his innocence despite being found guilty by a jury at Caernarfon Crown Court in April 2012 and is currently appealing over the conviction.
Sheffield United had offered to let the player use their facilities for training purposes, but the Yorkshire club withdrew the offer on Thursday night after it sparked a furore. The Professional Footballers’ Association has called for the 25-year-old to be given an opportunity to “return to the job he is trained to do”, but perhaps at a different club.
A Manchester City spokeswoman said today about the certificates: “The club would like to apologise for any distress caused to the recipients or their parents.
“It is some years since these certificates were updated and they were part of an old batch which were mistakenly distributed and which will not be distributed again.
“The club has been preparing new and updated Academy-related materials for some time and, once completed, it is these materials that will be presented at future events.
“We thank the parent involved for bringing this matter to our attention.”
The decision by Sheffield United to allow Evans the opportunity to train caused four patrons of the club to resign, including singer Paul Heaton and Sky Sports presenter Charlie Webster. Olympic heptathlon gold medal winner Jessica Ennis-Hill also asked that the club remove her name from one of the stands at Bramall Lane if the club opted to re-sign Evans.