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We got it wrong: Raith Rovers admit mistake over signing David Goodwillie

The Kirkcaldy club apologised to their fans and said the striker, who was ruled to have raped a woman, would not be selected for the team.

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Raith Rovers has admitted making a mistake over the signing of David Goodwillie (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Raith Rovers has admitted making a mistake over the signing of David Goodwillie (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Raith Rovers has admitted making a mistake over the signing of David Goodwillie (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Bosses at Raith Rovers have said David Goodwillie will not play for the club after all – with the chairman admitting “we got it wrong” with the controversial signing.

The U-turn comes after days of protest over the club’s decision to sign the striker who, in 2017, was found by a civil court to have raped a woman.

The move to sign Goodwillie caused an outcry from supporters, staff and the wider footballing world, with former prime minister, Gordon Brown, saying he “cannot support this signing”, and the captain of Raith’s ladies team quitting in protest.

Best-selling author Val McDermid, whose name is on the club’s shirts and one of their stands, withdrew her support and sponsorship in disgust.

We got it wrongJohn Sim, Raith Rovers chairman

She said: “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.”

The club had initially tried to defend the decision to sign Goodwillie from Clyde by saying it was “first and foremost… a football-related decision”.

However, in a statement on Thursday, the club’s chairman, John Sim, admitted: “We 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.

“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.

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David Goodwillie had been playing for Clyde in Scotland’s lower leagues before he was signed by Raith Rovers (Jeff Holmes/PA)

David Goodwillie had been playing for Clyde in Scotland’s lower leagues before he was signed by Raith Rovers (Jeff Holmes/PA)

PA

David Goodwillie had been playing for Clyde in Scotland’s lower leagues before he was signed by Raith Rovers (Jeff Holmes/PA)

“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.”

Ms McDermid said: “I welcome this unsigned statement from Raith Rovers. It’s a victory of sorts for the hundreds of people who make the club who were appalled at the board’s original decision and who were not afraid to speak out.

“But it’s just the first step on a long road back. The same people who made the decision are still in charge. Those who love and value the club are still on the outside; they need to be on the inside, shaping the future for the community.”

Former prime minister, and lifelong Raith Rovers supporter, Gordon Brown, welcomed the latest move by the football club, saying: “This is the right decision.

There are no doubt unanswered questions and concerns here but fans, Val McDermid and the Scottish public should be proud that they made this decision by Raith Rovers FC untenableRape Crisis Scotland

“Now, as I said on Monday, football authorities, given the recent examples, need to consider how we deal with cases of footballers where there has been rape and violence against women.”

Rape Crisis Scotland, a group which campaigns to end sexual violence, said those who stood against Raith Rovers’ signing of David Goodwillie “should be proud” the player has been dropped.

The organisation had previously said the Kirkcaldy-based club’s decision to select the striker was a “clear message of disregard to survivors of rape”.

In a response to the club’s announcement, the organisation said: “There are no doubt unanswered questions and concerns here but fans, Val McDermid and the Scottish public should be proud that they made this decision by Raith Rovers FC untenable.”

At a civil case at the Court of Session in Edinburgh in 2017, Goodwillie and his former Dundee United team-mate, David Robertson, were judged to have raped a woman and were ordered to pay her damages of £100,000.

Robertson has since retired from professional football.

No criminal charges had been brought against either of them.

Goodwillie, 32, left Plymouth in the wake of the ruling. He came through the ranks at Dundee United and has played for Blackburn Rovers, Aberdeen and Clyde, among others. He represented Scotland from under-16 level up, playing three times for the national team, scoring once.

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