Club backtrack signing of player ruled to be rapist

Clubs

Raith Rovers have backed down over the signing of David Goodwillie, who was ruled to be a rapist in a 2017 civil case, after previously saying they would stand by the player.

The Scottish club released a statement on Tuesday after a backlash from within and outside the club to the signing. Raith, defending the move, had said that he was “a proven goalscorer” and that “his footballing ability” was “our foremost consideration.”

Two club directors, the captain of its women’s team, the employability officer for the club’s community foundation and shirt sponsor Val McDermid all ended their association with the club over the signing.

The women’s team also reprinted their jerseys without the club’s crest and put in an application to have their affiliation with the club ended.

Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon and former prime minister of the United Kingdom Gordon Brown — who is a supporter of the club — both condemned the decision to sign him.

“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,” the club’s chairman John Sim said in a statement.

“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 as a whole.

“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.”

Goodwillie, alongside fellow footballer David Robertson, received the ruling in a civil case in Scotland in 2017 and the decision was upheld on appeal.

Goodwillie, who has two convictions for assault, did not face a criminal trial for the rape as prosecutors said there wasn’t enough evidence.

He has spent the last five years at Clyde and was named captain of the side ahead of the 2019-20 season.

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