Scottish football club admits ‘we got it wrong’ by signing player declared by court to be a rapist
Raith Rovers’ decision to drop striker David Goodwillie after his signing provoked a furious backlash from football fans is a “victory of sorts”, the author who led the criticism said.
Crime writer and high-profile Raith fan, Val McDermid, spoke out after the chairman of the Fife club admitted “we got it wrong” with the signing of Goodwillie – who was declared by a court to be a rapist at the end of a civil case in 2017.
While the club had previously defended the move, which also brought criticism from former prime minister Gordon Brown, as being “first and foremost a football related decision”, a U-turn saw the Kirkcaldy team announce on Thursday that the 32-year-old would not play for them.
Chairman John Sim stated: “This very unfortunate episode is something that we all bitterly regret and we are now wholly committed to making things right.”
We got it wrong
McDermid, whose name is on the club’s shirts and one of their stands, welcomed the change of stance, but insisted this was “just the first step on a long road back” for Raith Rovers’ bosses.
The author said: “It’s a victory of sorts for the hundreds of people who make the club, who were appalled at the board’s original decision and who were not afraid to speak out.
“But it’s just the first step on a long road back. The same people who made the decision are still in charge.
“Those who love and value the club are still on the outside, they need to be on the inside, shaping the future for the community.”
Former prime minister, and lifelong Raith Rovers supporter, Mr Brown, also welcomed the change of heart by the Championship club, saying: “This is the right decision.”
He insisted authorities in the sport now “need to consider how we deal with cases of footballers where there has been rape and violence against women”.
The SNP MP Hannah Bardell called for a House of Commons debate to be held on “barring rapists from football”, as she accused Raith Rovers of “causing huge trauma, upset and a devastating impact to the football community” with the decision.
Rape Crisis Scotland which works to support women who have been victims of sexual violence, said those who spoke out against Goodwillie’s signing “should be proud” the player has been dropped.
The organisation said: “There are no doubt unanswered questions and concerns here but fans, Val McDermid and the Scottish public should be proud that they made this decision by Raith Rovers FC untenable.”
The uproar against the signing of Goodwillie earlier this week saw director Andrew Mill resign from the board in protest, while ladies captain for Raith, Tyler Rattray, also quit after playing for the club for 10 years.
At a civil case at the Court of Session in Edinburgh in 2017, Goodwillie and his former Dundee United team-mate, David Robertson, were judged to have raped a woman and were ordered to pay her damages of £100,000.
Robertson has since retired from professional football.
No criminal charges had been brought against either of them.
Goodwillie, 32, left his club Plymouth in the wake of the ruling.
He came through the ranks at Dundee United and has played for Blackburn Rovers, Aberdeen and Clyde, among others. He represented Scotland from under-16 level up, playing three times for the national team, scoring a goal against Spain in 2011.
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