02 February 2022

Raith under more pressure as women’s team cut ties over David Goodwillie signing

02 February 2022

Raith have come under further pressure over the signing of David Goodwillie with their women’s team said to be “completely distancing themselves” from the club.

Club sponsor Val McDermid revealed the women’s and girls’ teams were cutting ties with Rovers following the signing of Goodwillie, who was found by a judge in a civil case at the Court of Session in 2017 to have raped a woman.

Goodwillie, who never faced criminal charges, had been playing with Clyde for almost five years but Raith’s decision to sign the 32-year-old former Scotland, Dundee United, Aberdeen and Blackburn striker has caused a furore.

Val McDermid has ended her shirt sponsorship (John Linton/PA) (PA Wire)

Crime writer and former Raith board member McDermid had warned against the signing several weeks ago and announced she was ending her sponsorship and “lifelong support” of her club on Tuesday.

Long-serving women’s team captain Tyler Rattray announced she was quitting the club on Tuesday but McDermid revealed all of her team-mates were looking to “completely distance themselves from Raith Rovers Football Club”.

McDermid told BBC Radio 4: “They are currently, as we speak, having new shirts printed that don’t have the Raith Rovers crest on them.

“They are committed to playing their fixture on Sunday not at Stark’s Park, Raith Rovers’ ground, but at another ground in the town, at the Windmill pitches.”

The chief executive of Scottish Women’s Football Aileen Campbell warned of the consequences of the “badly misjudged” decision.

“The fact that the women’s club has lost its captain as a result of this is devastating, that would be a devastating consequence to lose women from the game as a result of this poor decision,” she told BBC Radio Scotland.

“We can’t shy away from the fact it is a privilege to work in football and football has real influence and sway, particularly over young fans and that is why this decision feels poor.”

Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, a Raith fan, criticised the decision on Tuesday and Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon backed up her initial opposition to the move.

“Football players – it’s not an ordinary job, like First Minister is not an ordinary job,” she said.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon criticised Raith’s decision (Jane Barlow/PA) (PA Wire)

“Football players are role models and football clubs have a responsibility to make sure they’re positive role models for the wee boys and wee girls who look up to them.

“This is a player who was found in a civil court, albeit on the balance of probabilities, to have raped a woman, and as far as I’m aware hasn’t shown any remorse or reflection for that and I think that Raith Rovers really do have to reflect on the message that sends.”

In a statement released on Tuesday, the club said the signing was “first and foremost… a football-related decision”, which the First Minister felt “compounded the problem rather than made it any better”.

She added: “What they effectively seemed to be saying was that it didn’t matter how a man behaved towards a woman, the only thing that mattered to them was whether he could score goals for the football club.

“That really illustrates the distance we’ve got to go as a society if our rhetoric about zero-tolerance of sexual violence, violence against women, is to be a reality.”

Goodwillie was not in the Raith squad for Tuesday’s 3-3 cinch Championship draw with Queen of the South, who were wearing the pink away strip that supports their partnership with the White Ribbon campaign, which aims to end violence against women.

A JustGiving campaign set up by a Raith fan to raise money for Rape Crisis Scotland had accumulated almost £10,000 by Wednesday evening.

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