The chairman of Raith Rovers has apologised in the face of ferocious backlash following the signing of David Goodwillie.
In a civil court case that took place in 2017, Goodwillie was ruled to have raped a woman in 2011.
The Scottish Championship side signed the 32-year-old on Monday. That sparked outrage from officials, fans and members of the club’s women’s team. Several board members resigned over the signing.
Rovers chairman says “we got it wrong” over David Goodwillie
Raith posted a statement on the club’s website today. Rovers chairman John Sim said they had “got it wrong”.
He 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.
“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. We got it wrong.
“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.”
Sim went on to confirm Goodwillie would not play for the club.
“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.”
The legal history of David Goodwillie
Goodwillie and team-mate David Robertson were accused of raping a woman in 2011. She claimed that both men raped her in a flat in Armadale, West Lothian, after a night out in Bathgate in January 2011.
The Crown Office dropped criminal charges against Goodwillie later that year due to insufficient evidence. Robertson was not charged.
The accuser then waived her right to anonymity and sued both men in a civil case, which took place in January 2017. In civil court, the burden of proof is lower than in criminal court.
In the civil case, Lord Armstrong ruled that both men had raped her. She originally sought £500,000 in compensation, but damages were later agreed at £100,000.
It is not the only time Goodwillie has been in court.
Then in 2012, he received a conviction of assault for punching and kicking a man called John Friel. Friel had attacked Goodwillie’s teammate Danny Swanson in a takeaway in Glasgow in 2010.
He received a 12-month probation order and was ordered to carry out 80 hours of unpaid work. Friel was ordered to carry out 240 hours of unpaid work.
Who protested against his signing?
The list of those opposed to his signing stretched from fans to staff members within the club.
The captain of the women’s side, Tyler Rattay, announced that she was leaving following Goodwillie’s arrival.
The club’s former chairman, Bill Clark, has also quit the board, as reported by the Courier.
Author Val McDermid was the shirt sponsor, however, she withdrew her sponsorship on Tuesday.
Six staff members also left. They include announcer Johnny MacDonald, who has been a fan of the club for over 40 years.
First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, said she hoped Raith Rovers would “reflect very carefully”. She also urged them to “think again” about the decision to sign the striker.
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