Flop of the month: Sheffield United scores reputational own goal over Ched Evans

It is difficult to know the exact moment to pull the plug and accept that one is in a battle one cannot win, but the comms team at Sheffield United can reasonably be accused of a defensive error with its handling of the Ched Evans debacle.

The club declined to say it would refuse to allow Evans, a convicted rapist, to play following his release from prison. It also dismissed a petition, currently approaching 170,000 signatures, and a growing body of negative comment on social media as "mob justice".

The club initially offered Evans, who continues to protest his innocence, the opportunity to train using its facilities, which some saw as a prelude to a return to playing for the team. But after a string of backers and sponsors withdrew their support for the club, it was forced to reconsider.

The first was TV presenter Charlie Webster, who was followed by fellow patrons Dave Berry and Lindsay Graham.

Meanwhile, shirt sponsor DBL Logistics said it would end its backing for the club if Evans was reinstated.

Surely the club would call time when the 2012 Olympic heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis-Hill threatened to have her name removed from one of the stadium’s stands? Wrong. The club held out for more than a week before issuing a statement retracting its offer for Evans to train, citing the "intensity" of reaction to its initial decision and expressing disappointment at the "misinformed commentary" directed at it over the past two weeks.

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