01 February 2022

Raith stand by decision to sign David Goodwillie despite angry backlash

01 February 2022

Raith Rovers consider new signing David Goodwillie as ‘part of the club’ after the arrival of the striker sparked departures and a backlash from club sponsor Val McDermid, fans, Rape Crisis Scotland and Nicola Sturgeon.

Crime writer McDermid has ended her shirt sponsorship while a number of supporters say they have withdrawn their backing for the club.

The cinch Championship club paid money to Clyde for Goodwillie, who was ruled by a judge in 2017 to have raped a woman, and handed the 32-year-old a contract until 2024.

At a civil case at the Court of Session in Edinburgh in 2017, Goodwillie and his former Dundee United team-mate David Robertson were ordered to pay damages of £100,000 to a woman they had raped, a judge ruled. No criminal charges had been brought against either of them.

The former Blackburn and Aberdeen striker left Plymouth in the wake of the ruling and has played for Clyde in Scotland’s lower two divisions since then, hitting 109 goals in 176 appearances.

McDermid, a former Raith director whose name adorns the club’s home shirts, had warned against the signing several weeks ago.

The novelist, who has sold more than 17 million books, wrote on Twitter: “I have this morning ended my lifelong support of Raith Rovers over their signing of the rapist David Goodwillie.

Val McDermid, left, at a Raith game (Jeff Holmes/PA) (PA Wire)

“I have cancelled next season’s shirt sponsorship over this disgusting and despicable move. This shatters any claim to be a community or family club.

“Goodwillie has never expressed a shred of remorse for the rape he committed. His presence at Starks Park is a stain on the club.

“I’ll be tearing up my season ticket too. This is a heartbreaker for me and many other fans, I know.”

In a later post on social media, she added: “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.”

McDermid, whose father was the Rovers scout responsible for signing the club’s greatest player, Jim Baxter, added that the move was “a terrible day not just for Raith Rovers but for women who support football”.

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

In a tweet, she said: “After 10 long years playing for Raith, it’s gutting I have given up now because they have signed someone like this and I want nothing to do with it!”

The First Minister praised McDermid and Rattray’s “principled” responses and added: “But 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.”

Rape Crisis Scotland, a group which campaigns to end sexual violence, claimed Raith’s decision was a “clear message of disregard to survivors of rape”.

The club’s supporter liaison officer, Margie Robertson, resigned from her post and stated her values and those of the club were on a “divergent path”. Former chairman Bill Clark and Andrew Mill both quit the club’s board.

However, Rovers declared there would be no backing down.

The club claimed they “completely respect the differing views” and would continue to engage with fans and stakeholders.

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

“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 10 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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