The signing of former Scotland international David Goodwillie by Raith Rovers has received a strong backlash of criticism with the club responding via a statement on Tuesday
Scottish side Raith Rovers have released an official statement after facing an intense backlash following their signing of David Goodwillie.
Goodwillie and fellow footballer David Robertson were both accused of rape in 2011. However, the pair never faced a criminal trial over the claim, with prosecutors saying there was not enough evidence.
In the first civil case of its kind in Scotland in 2017, a judge ruled the pair to be rapists and ordered them to pay £100,000 damages. In civil proceedings, the burden of proof is on the balance of probabilities as opposed to criminal proceedings where it has to be proved beyond reasonable doubt.
Raith responded to backlash from fans with an official statement on Tuesday, which 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.”
Tyler Rattray, captain of Raith Rovers’ women’s side, confirmed she was leaving the club after the signing of striker Goodwillie while high-profile author Val McDermid is withdrawing her sponsorship of the Scottish Championship club.
Rattray posted: “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! It was good being captain of raith while it lasted.”
McDermid, a world famous author whose website has been the club’s shirt sponsor since 2014, has now announced her withdrawal from support from the club.
She wrote: “I have this morning ended my lifelong support of @RaithRovers over their signing of the rapist David Goodwillie. 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.”
Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, later backed the pair’s decision, saying their stances were “principled” while The Courier reported that former club chairman Bill Clark was one of two board members to quit.
Sturgeon posted in a tweet: “The stances that Val McDermid and women’s team captain Tyler Rattray have taken are principled – though difficult for both of them.
“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 has also issued a statement condemning the transfer: “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.
“Fundamentally – though it seems Raith FC do not agree – women’s lives are more important than men’s talent or careers. Footballers are role models – particularly for young people – and it’s not okay to have someone in this position who has been found by a senior judge to be a rapist.
“We wonder whether those who took this decision thought for a second about how it may look or feel to survivors to have to watch someone judged to have committed rape be celebrated and applauded.
“This was a bad decision that sends entirely the wrong message, and it should be withdrawn.”
Goodwillie, who has three senior Scotland caps, has signed a two-and-a-half year deal with Raith after arriving from League One side Clyde.