Ched Evans has 'won his appeal' against a rape conviction. His supporters cheer, his detractors claim injustice and quite simply, you'd be forgiven for thinking Evans had found a new club. A late goal, three points for Evans FC and 'we'll hit training on Monday like nothing happened and concentrate on next week's game'. However, a court room isn't a football pitch and Evans' 'victory' today is not exactly what many will assume it is.
And that's entirely understandable. For the vast majority of us plebs, courtroom talk can be difficult to understand at the best of times. The fact that Evans' conviction seemed to bring out such strong opinions from people on both sides of the argument, who had no direct connection to the case, just confuses things even more.
Emotion comes into it, the Facebook comments section turns into anarchy and a rape allegation against a well known footballer becomes a bellwether for how modern society views the issue of consent. The decision of the Court of Appeal in London today will understandably put that issue on the front burner once again, but before that can happen, it needs to be made abundantly clear as to what exactly today's judgement means.
The headlines read that Evans has won his appeal and that is correct, it's a win for his legal team and, as a result, there has been any number of opinions thrown out as to how Evans has been vindicated and how 'justice is finally being done'. However, it needs to be said that the fact that Evans won his appeal is in no way a judgement on his guilt or innocence.
What the Court decided this morning was simply that, because new evidence had come to light, the clock has to be reset to zero from a legal standing and the trial begins again. The long standing principal of 'innocent until proven guilty' means that Ched Evans is now an innocent man, but he has not been cleared of all charges.
For those suggesting that this now means Evans can get back to playing football, it must be said that would still seem rather unlikely. In light of the difficulties Sunderland faced following the 'innocent until proven guilty' principle with Adam Johnson, you'd have to think that there will still be quite a bit of hesitance to offer Evans a way back to professional football.
After this morning's judgement, he is accused of rape and will stand trial on that charge. Regardless of the fact that a retrial has been ordered, there are surely very few clubs out there who would knowingly decide to offer a contract to a player who will soon go through that process. Naturally enough, those that staunchly supported Evans throughout the initial trial will take today's developments as vindication but the reality is that although Evans is no longer a convicted rapist, he will stand trial for rape and until that process is seen through to the end, there's very little else to be said.