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Raith Rovers Football Club condemned for signing rapist David Goodwillie

This news post is 6 months old
 

Goodwillie was found by a civil court to have raped a mother-of-one at a party in 2011

A professional football club in Fife have been told they should reverse the signing of a striker yesterday after concerns were raised about his history of sexual violence. 

David Goodwillie was ruled in civil court to have raped a mother-of-one at a party in January 2011 - an incident that was reported in court to have destroyed her life. 

The 2017 decision saw Goodwillie and a former teammate, who was also sued by the survivor, to pay £100,000 in damages in the civil action at the Court of Session in Edinburgh.

David Goodwillie. Credit: BohemianFC (Eddie Lennon)

Both footballers were found by a judge to have taken advantage of the survivor, who was said to be “incapable of giving meaningful consent, and that both raped her - with the judge, Lord Armstrong, claiming neither of the teammates were “credible or reliable on the issue of whether they had a reasonable or honest belief that she was consenting”.

At the time of the decision Goodwillie was playing for English side Plymouth Argyle but left the club following the decision, before signing for Clyde FC two months later. 

However, nearly five years after he was branded a rapist in court, Scottish Championship side Raith Rovers announced on Monday evening that they had signed the player on a 30-month contract - a decision which has been condemned by fans, charities and the Scottish footballing community. 

Rape Crisis Scotland (RCS) said it was clear they are deeply disappointed that the club are happy to send such a clear message of disregard to survivors of rape and sexual violence.

In a statement, the charity said: “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.

https://twitter.com/rapecrisisscot/status/1488428218805805064?s=20&t=sE0yFNig97kJp3_zwF21Fg

“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.”

Fans of the club have expressed their horror at the move, with many stating they will not return to support Raith while Goodwillie remains at the club. 

Author and campaigner Val McDermid, a lifelong supporter of the Kirkcaldy club, has said that the decision was heartbreaking for fans - branding Monday a terrible day for Raith Rovers. 

She wrote on social media: “I have this morning ended my lifelong support of Raith Rovers over their signing of the rapist David Goodwillie.

"I have cancelled next season’s shirt sponsorship over this disgusting and despicable move.

Scottish author Val McDermid. Credit: byronv2 (link)

"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.

“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.”

In a statement made following the signing, the club praised Goodwillie’s footballing track record but made no mention of his legal history. 

The club's ladies captain, Tyler Rattray 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! It was good being captain of Raith while it lasted."

Raith Rovers manager John McGlynn said of the signing: “I have worked with David before and he has a proven track record as a goalscorer throughout his career at every level. 

“We know from matches against Clyde in League 1 that he always carried a goal threat.

“Signing him, I believe, is crucial to the club’s promotion push in our quest to reach the SPFL Premiership – it is a great signing for Raith Rovers as a club, as David is the top goal scorer in Scotland.

“Every striker at the club will benefit greatly from his experience in matches and training.”

The club was asked by Third Force News whether they shared the concerns outlined by fans and Rape Crisis Scotland, and whether their decision showed a disregard for survivors of sexual violence.

A statement posted on Tuesday evening reads: "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."

 

Comments

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Jock
6 months ago

He was sued for damages,lost and paid them. Why can't he like other offenders get on with their lives? Considering that the third sector deals with ex convicts how can you hound this guy yet criticised that ex offenders don't get jobs.