VIDEO: Ex Sheffield United star Ched Evans to make video statement
The former Sheffield United striker has served half of a five-year sentence for raping a 19-year-old woman in a hotel.
VIDEO: Press the play button to see footage of a mercedes believed to be carrying footballer Ched Evans leaving HMP Wymott Prison just before 5am.
In a statement on his website, his family said: “Next week Ched will make a very personal and profound statement by video which will be on his site and available for use by the media should they choose to do so.
“Ched is now adjusting to normal life after serving a sentence for a crime consistently denied.”
The statement said: “Whilst we understand the media interest, we would respectfully request some privacy over the next few weeks.
“Ched would like to thank, prior to the video statement, the thousands of people from all walks of life who have supported him and believe in him.”
His website, which is run by his family and girlfriend Natasha Massey, confirmed his release and said they are determined to overturn his conviction.
Evans was jailed in April 2012 for raping the woman in a hotel room in Rhyl, North Wales.
His release will pile more pressure on his former club, Sheffield United, to say whether he will be allowed to play for them again.
Many Blades fans have called for him to be rehabilitated, but almost 150,000 people have signed an online petition urging the Bramall Lane club not to welcome him back.
A man, believed to be Evans, was seen getting into the back of the Mercedes, which had blacked-out windows, and the vehicle left in a matter of seconds.
The striker denied raping the woman but was found guilty by a jury at Caernarfon Crown Court.
He admitted having sex with her, but the woman told the jury she had no memory of the incident.
The prosecution said the woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was too drunk to consent to sexual intercourse.
Port Vale defender Clayton McDonald also admitted having sex with the victim but was found not guilty of the same charge.
An appeal against Evans’s conviction was rejected by three judges at the Court of Appeal in 2012.
Miss Massey has led a campaign to have the conviction overturned and the case is due to be looked at by the Criminal Case Review Commission in the coming weeks.
She has reiterated her support for her partner, telling ITV’s This Morning that she put her feelings about his cheating to one side to support him through his trial and prison and said she has visited him every week in jail.
Miss Massey said Evans hopes to play professional football again.
Sheffield United have refused to say whether they will allow Evans to play again.
Manager Nigel Clough has said: “We have had one or two discussions; we are awaiting a decision and the owners will make that in good time.”
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said the owners of Sheffield United should “think really long and hard” before deciding whether to allow Evans back.
He said footballers were role models to youngsters and that should “weigh heavily” on the club’s owners.
Sheffield Hallam Lib Dem MP Mr Clegg added: “I don’t think it’s right for politicians to tell football clubs what they will do and who they employ. All I’m saying is I think football players these days, they get paid a lot of money, they are public figures and you can’t ignore that.”
Richard Caborn, a former sports minister and a Sheffield United fan, said Evans should be allowed back only if he shows remorse and says sorry.
Labour sports spokesman Clive Efford said it was “not appropriate” for Evans to return to professional football after his release.
Mr Efford told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: “I think there are many areas of employment where, when you’ve committed a crime like that, you are not allowed to be employed in that form of employment, and I think football is one of them, because you are a role model within a community.
“I know this is sad for Ched Evans, who’s been to prison and paid a price, but I think that in these circumstances it’s not appropriate to have someone with that record in a profession where you are idolised by young people.”
Evans scored 48 goals in 113 games for the Blades before his imprisonment, including 35 in 42 games during the 2011/12 campaign which was cut short for him due to his trial and conviction.
He has been capped 13 times for Wales.