London: Sheffield United denied reports on Saturday that the League One club have offered a new contract to convicted rapist Ched Evans.
Evans was released from prison on Friday after serving half of his five-year sentence for raping a 19-year-old woman in a hotel, with United widely criticised for considering the possibility of allowing the 25-year-old to resume his career at his former club.
Many Blades fans have called for Evans to be rehabilitated but almost 150,000 people have signed an online petition urging the Bramall Lane team not to welcome him back.
It was reported on Saturday that the Wales striker had been offered a two-year contract by United worth more than £500,000 ($804,000).
But the third-tier club have refuted the report in a statement that read: "Sheffield United has become aware of speculative media coverage concerning the immediate future of its former player Ched Evans.
"An article in The Sun (on Saturday) that Sheffield United has offered a contract to former player Ched Evans is false and damaging to the club.
"We have made a statement on this matter previously and the lack of credibility and substance from this latest media report does not warrant any expansion from previous comments apart from noting that we are continuing to deliberate on any long-term decision about Ched Evans."
Evans was jailed in April 2012 for raping a 19-year-old woman in a hotel room in Rhyl, North Wales.
He denied the offence but was found guilty by a jury at Caernarfon Crown Court.
Evans 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.
An appeal against Evans` conviction was rejected by three judges at the Court of Appeal in 2012.
His girlfriend, Natasha Massey, has led a campaign to have the conviction overturned and Evans` case is due to be reviewed by the Criminal Case Review Commission in the coming weeks.
Earlier this week Blades manager Nigel Clough said the matter had been discussed by the club`s hierarchy.
He said the decision was not his to make but would be made by the club "in good time".
The UK`s Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said on Thursday that United`s owners should "think really long and hard" before deciding whether to allow Evans back.