'We got it wrong' - Raith Rovers to release ruled-as-rapist Goodwillie after women's team captain quits club

David GoodwillieGetty

Raith Rovers are preparing to release David Goodwillie after his arrival at the club sparked a furious backlash, with the Scottish Championship outfit admitting that they "got it wrong".

Goodwillie, 32, was ruled to have committed rape by a civil court judge in 2017 and ordered, along with a team-mate, to pay £100,000 in damages.

Rovers' signing of the player prompted heavy criticism, as well as the resignation of the club's women's captain.

What was said initially?

"As announced on our website last night, Raith Rovers FC can confirm that we have signed David Goodwillie from Clyde FC," the club stated on their official website on Tuesday.

"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."

What has been said now?

After listening to supporters, Raith chairman John Sim has said in a statement on the club's official website: "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 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."

The bigger picture

Goodwillie and fellow footballer David Robertson were sued for damages for rape in 2017 by Denise Clair, in one of the first such civil cases to be held in Scotland.

The pair had previously stood accused of criminal charges, but authorities at the time declined to proceed with a prosecution.

In the civil case, however, a judge upheld Clair's claim, ruling that she had been raped in 2011 and ordering Goodwillie and Robertson to pay damages.

After the case Goodwillie parted ways with Plymouth Argyle in League Two and moved to Clyde, whom he represented prior to signing for Raith Rovers.

In response, Raith's women’s captain, Tyler Rattray, revealed: “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!”

Club director Bill Clark joined Rattray in leaving, while the move was also condemned by Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and ex-Primer Minister Gordon Brown, a lifelong Raith fan.

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Famous crime writer Val McDermid also announced that she would no longer support her childhood club in protest at the transfer, firing on Twitter: "I have cancelled next season’s shirt sponsorship over this disgusting and despicable move."

There is support if you are affected by the issues in this story. In the United Kingdom you can contact Refuge, and in the United States you can contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

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