Footballer Ched Evans has confirmed his lawyers have issued an application to appeal his rape conviction and "clear his name" following his release from prison.
Speaking alongside his girlfriend Natasha Massey in a video statement posted on his website, the 25-year-old Evans said he made an "incredibly foolish decision" to cheat on his partner but said the sexual encounter with a woman in a hotel room that saw him convicted of rape was "consensual".
The former Wales international and Sheffield United player, who was released from jail last Friday after serving half of a five-year jail term, added:
It is a rare and extraordinary privilege to be permitted to play professional football. Now that I have served the custodial part of my sentence of two and a half years, it is my hope that I will be able to return to football...
...I don't believe I have a given right to play again. But for any club to take me on I have learned a valuable lesson and know that over time I can prove myself to be a positive influence.
Ched Evans has issued a video statement asking for a "second chance" to resume his professional football career after serving a prison sentence for rape.
The former Sheffield United striker, sitting alongside his girlfriend Natasha Massey, said it was his "hope" to return to the game, adding: "If that is possible then I will do so with humility having learned a very painful lesson."
Evans said he remained "determined to continue the fight to clear my name" in the video released on his personal website.
The BBC has apologised after presenter Michael Buerk broadcast that footballer Ched Evans' rape victim was among those not coming away "with any credit" from the case because she was "so drunk she could barely stand".
Speaking in a trailer for this evening's Radio 4 programme Moral Maze, which will debate whether Evans should return to his former club Sheffield United after his prison release, Buerk said:
Nobody comes out of the Ched Evans rape case with any credit. Not the victim who had drunk so much she could barely stand, nor the two footballers who had sex with her in the most sordid of circumstances.
The jury convicted only one of rape and now, after serving half his five-year sentence, ashamed but unrepentant, Ched Evans has been released and there is talk of a £500,000 contract to return to his club, Sheffield United.
This morning's aired comments received strong criticism from rape charities amid an angry public response. A spokesman for Radio 4 said:
There was no intention to suggest that the victim was in any way at fault, and we apologise if the way this live trail was phrased suggested this.
Tonight’s Moral Maze will ask whether a convicted rapist who maintains his innocence should be entitled to get his job back.
The criticism of Buerk's comments come after public outrage at TV presenter Judy Finnigan's claim that the victim in the case had "had far too much to drink" and that the "rape was not violent".
The Criminal Cases Review Commission has said it is to begin investigating the Evans case "within the next few weeks".
A spokesman for the body, which reviews possible miscarriages of justice and has the power to refer cases to the Court of Appeal, told the Observer newspaper that representations had been made by the footballer's legal team to prioritise the case.
He told the paper that after the request "in line with our published policy on prioritisation, and in relation to the facts of the case and the issues raised in Mr Evans's application to us ... we now expect our substantive investigation to begin within the next few weeks".
He added that the decision to fast-track the case had no bearing on whether it may be referred to the appeal courts.
Convicted rapist Ched Evans has vowed to prove his innocence and return to football.
The 25-year-old footballer, who was released from prison on Friday having served half of a five-year sentence for raping a woman in a hotel room, told the Sunday Mirror shortly before he was freed that he was not capable of rape and was stunned by his conviction.
He said cheating on his girlfriend was "unforgivable", and wished he "could turn back the clock".
But protesting his innocence, the former Sheffield United player said: "I am not capable of rape. She has helped me to cope. I want to play football again, but I am determined to prove my innocence.
“I really thought it would have been thrown out of court and I was stunned when I was convicted.I had done nothing wrong.
"It was something that should never have happened. I cheated on my girlfriend and had sex with this girl - but it was definitely consensual."
Sheffield United has denied reports it has offered a contract to convicted rapist Ched Evans, claiming newspaper reports are "false and damaging to the club".
Following Evans' release from prison yesterday, The Sun newspaper reported that the 25-year-old's former club had offered him a two-year contract.
But Sheffield United co-chairmen, Kevin McCabe and Jim Phipps, said they were still "continuing to deliberate on any long term decision about Ched Evans."
On Wednesday, an ITV News Calendar poll found 52% of people were against him rejoining the club.
Ched Evans' mother has tweeted her joy at having her son home after his release from prison today.
Thank you to every single person that has supported, took abuse and argued for Ched and my family it really has helped keep us strong. xxx
After one tweeter said she must be "so happy to have him home", Helen Roberts replied "yes I am. Thank you."
Just over half of people polled by ITV News say convicted rapist Ched Evans should not be allowed to resume his football careerRead the full story ›
Footballer Ched Evans was released from prison at 5am this morning, a statement on his website has confirmed.
A separate update read that Evans "is now adjusting to normal life after serving a sentence for a crime consistently denied".
The former Sheffield United striker hopes to overturn his 2012 conviction for rape, and the statement says his legal team is "confident" in an application for a second appeal.
According to the website, Evans plans to make a "very personal and profound" statement by video next week.
"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," the post said.
Footballer Ched Evans is believed to have left prison this morning after serving half of his five-year sentence for rape.
A silver 4x4 with blacked-out windows was seen pulling up outside Wymott Prison near Leyland in Lancashire just before 5am.
A man was seen getting in to the back of the vehicle which left "within seconds", according to a witness.