02 February 2022

Gordon Brown joins backlash over Raith Rovers’ signing of footballer David Goodwillie who court ruled had raped woman

02 February 2022

Former prime minister Gordon Brown has joined the backlash against Raith Rovers - the club he supports - after they signed footballer David Goodwillie five years after a court ruled he had raped a woman.

Mr Brown’s intervention comes after the captain of the club’s ladies team quit in protest at the signing, while best-selling author Val McDermid withdrew her sponsorship in disgust as she said: “The thought of the rapist David Goodwillie running out on the pitch at Starks Park in a Raith Rovers shirt with my name on it makes me feel physically sick”

The former Labour leader, meanwhile, said while he had always supported the Fife club he had told them that he “can not support this signing”.

Mr Brown said: “I have always supported Raith Rovers but I have told Raith Rovers that I cannot support this signing.”

Gordon Brown has hit out at Raith Rovers’ move to sign David Goodwillie (Jane Barlow/PA) (PA Archive)

The former Labour leader added: “I condemn rape and all violence against women.

“Because of the number of recent examples across football, I urge the football authorities to set out a policy to address cases of violence like this.”

His comments came in the midst of a series of protests over the Kirkcaldy’s club’s decision to sign Goodwillie.

The club signed Goodwillie, 32, despite a court ruling in a civil case in 2017 that found he and now retired player David Robertson had raped a woman.

The two men were ordered to pay damages of £100,000 to the woman, but no criminal charges were brought against either of them.

I feel I am unable to continue as a director of Raith Rovers FC and this morning I submitted my resignation

Raith’s director, Andrew Mill, has since relinquished his position on the board in protest over Goodwillie, whose signing marks a return to full-time football for the striker.

Mr Mill, who has been the club’s “support director” since 2018, said: “Most Raith fans will now be aware of the recent events that have taken place over the last day or two which resulted in us signing David Goodwillie from Clyde FC.

“As a consequence, I feel I am unable to continue as a director of Raith Rovers FC and this morning I submitted my resignation.

“Thank you for all your support during my term as your representative on the board.

“I hope I have made a difference and, although I may not have gotten everything right, I can assure you I had the supporters’ best interests at heart all the time.”

The club’s supporter liaison officer, Margie Robertson, also announced her resignation in protest.

Val McDermid has announced she will withdraw her sponsorship over the signing of David Goodwillie (John Linton/PA) (PA Wire)

She added: “My values and that of the club are now on a divergent path.

“I would like to thank everyone who has encouraged me and helped me through out my tenure. I have enjoyed meeting so many fans.”

Earlier, Ms McDermid, Raith’s principle sponsor, had announced she is to pull her funding from the club over the Goodwillie signing, branding it a “disgusting and despicable move”.

The name of the author, who was also a director, is worn on the clubs’ home shirt and the South Stand at Stark’s Park.

Another fellow Raith sponsor, Paul Farley of Tag Games, also pulled funding from the club.

He said: “I have written to Raith Rovers ending Tag Games future shirt, or other sponsorship, and requesting our branding removed from shirts for the remainder of the season.

“We stand with Val McDermid and the majority of fans against violence towards women.”

The captain of the club’s women’s team, Tyler Rattray, also announced she was quitting playing for the team on Tuesday.

She said: “It was good being captain of Raith while it lasted”, but she “wanted nothing to do with it” since the club’s decision to take on Goodwillie.

Politicians and charities have also taken aim at the club saying the signing of the controversial player “sends entirely the wrong message”.

First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, tweeted her support for them, describing their decisions as “principled”.

She added: “The fact they’re in this position at all reminds us that our society still has a way to go to make zero tolerance of sexual violence a reality.”

A spokeswoman for Rape Crisis Scotland said: “We are surprised and deeply disappointed that Raith Rovers FC are happy to send such a clear message of disregard to survivors of rape and sexual violence in signing David Goodwillie.

“This was a bad decision that sends entirely the wrong message, and it should be withdrawn.”

In response to the backlash, a statement released on Raith Rovers’ website read: “As announced on our website last night, Raith Rovers FC can confirm that we have signed David Goodwillie from Clyde FC.

“David is a proven goal scorer, and this will be his second stint with the club, having previously played for us on loan from Dundee United during season 2007-08.

“As with all new signings, the club has carefully considered our position as a Community Club and we completely respect the differing views among fans and stakeholders, many of whom we have spoken to directly in the past 24 hours and are continuing to engage with.

“As David has previously played for Raith Rovers earlier in his career, we consider him to be part of Raith Rovers Football Club.

“The management team is familiar with David’s career and background and – in particular – his footballing ability. That is our foremost consideration, and we believe that he will strengthen the Raith Rovers playing squad.

“Please be assured that as a community football club we fully acknowledge this signing has divided opinion amongst our loyal fans and commercial stakeholders; We aim to rebuild that trust.

“While acknowledging the gravity of what happened ten years ago, as a club we fully support and encourage rehabilitation, and many factors influenced our signing.

“First and foremost, this was a football related decision.”

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