Raith Rovers have confirmed that new signing David Goodwillie will not play for the club. The also apologized for the signing, which has attracted backlash from fans.
Raith’s decision to re-sign 32-year-old Goodwillie – who was ruled to be a rapist in a civil court case in 2017 although no criminal proceedings were instructed – had generated widespread criticism. Goodwillie previous played for Raith Rovers in the 2007-08 season.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon called on the Scottish Professional Football League to act regarding this matter, the club’s main sponsor, author Val McDermid, whose name is on the club’s shirts and one of its stands withdrew her support and an online petition was set up calling for Goodwillie to be released.
Raith released a statement on Tuesday defending the decision to sign Goodwillie, but on Thursday new chairman John Sim admitted “the club got it wrong.”
A statement from Sim on behalf of the board said: “I firstly want to apologise wholeheartedly to our fans, sponsors, players and the wider Raith Rovers community for the anguish and anger caused over the past few days. We got it wrong.”
“In reaching our original decision, we focused far too much on football matters and not enough on what this decision would mean for our club and the community.”
“Over the past couple of days, we listened carefully to the fans who have got in touch and I’m very grateful for their honesty. As chairman, as a board and as a management team, we have all learned a hard but valuable lesson. “This very unfortunate episode is something that we all bitterly regret and we are now wholly committed to making things right.”
“I can therefore confirm that, following a meeting of the Raith Rovers board, the player will not be selected by Raith Rovers and we will enter into discussions with the player regarding his contractual position.”
“We share a desire to do what is best for our club and will be doing everything in our power to regain the trust and confidence of the Raith Rovers family.”
Former Raith Rovers chairman Bill Clark, who quit his role as director after Goodwillie’s signing, says the club’s board must now resign. Speaking exclusively to Sky Sports News after the club’s U-turn, Clark said: “It is, I think, too little too late. The reaction to it has been phenomenal. It’s going to take a long time to rebuild the reputation of the club.”
“I think the financial situation might be difficult, but I think the club can get over that eventually. But the damage to the reputation is the main thing that I’m concerned about.”
When asked if he believed the board should now quit, Clark said: “Personally, I have to admit, yes. I would go along with what most of the supporters say. A lot of people, and I mean a lot, are saying the people who made the original decision should go, because if that’s the standard of leadership and management and adherence to the morals and values of Raith Rovers, then that’s not good. They should go.”
Aileen Campbell, chief executive of Scottish Women’s Football, echoed Nicola Sturgeon’s comments on Wednesday and said the Kirkcaldy club had made a “badly misjudged” decision to sign Goodwillie which had “tarnished” Raith Rovers’ reputation and could have “devastating consequences” for female players.
Tyler Rattray, the captain of Raith’s women’s team, also quit in protest, along with others at the club, while former Prime Minister and Raith Rovers fan Gordon Brown made clear he did not support Goodwillie’s signing.
Raith Rovers signed Goodwillie despite a court ruling in a civil case in 2017 that he and now retired player David Robertson had raped a woman.
The two men were ordered to pay damages of £100,000 to Denise Clair. Denise waived her right to lifetime anonymity. No criminal charges were brought against either man. The club had insisted the signing was “first and foremost… a football-related decision.”
In a statement on Tuesday defending the move, the club described Goodwillie as a “proven goal scorer” whose footballing ability will help “strengthen the Raith Rovers playing squad.”
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: METRO.CO.UK