Val McDermid ends Raith Rovers support over David Goodwillie deal

Val McDermid ends Raith Rovers support over David Goodwillie deal

by Emily Smith
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Image source, SNS Group

Image caption, Val McDermid has withdrawn her support and sponsorship of Raith Rovers football club

The author Val McDermid has withdrawn her support and sponsorship of Raith Rovers football club after it signed David Goodwillie.

The striker was ruled to be a rapist and ordered to pay damages in a civil case in 2017.

He never faced a criminal trial over the rape accusation after prosecutors said there was not enough evidence.

Ms McDermid, known for her popular crime fiction novels, has been a lifelong fan of the Fife club.

Two of the Kirkcaldy club’s directors – one of whom was once chairman – and the captain of its women’s team have also resigned in protest.

‘Disgusting and despicable move’

Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, and former UK prime minister Gordon Brown have also condemned the signing.

But the club defended its decision, which it said was primarily based on Goodwillie’s abilities on the pitch.

Ms McDermid was the Scottish Championship team’s main shirt sponsor but said that deal would now end as a result of the signing.

The name of the author, who was also a director, is worn on the clubs’ home shirt and the South Stand at Stark’s Park.

I have this morning ended my lifelong support of @RaithRovers over their signing of the rapist David Goodwillie. I have cancelled next season’s shirt sponsorship over this disgusting and despicable move. This shatters any claim to be a community or family club. 1/2

— Val McDermid (@valmcdermid) February 1, 2022
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

Writing on Twitter on Tuesday morning, Ms McDermid said: “The thought of the rapist David Goodwillie running out on the pitch at Starks Park in a @RaithRovers shirt with my name on it makes me feel physically sick.”

She added that she had “ended my lifelong support” of the club and cancelled next season’s shirt sponsorship “over this disgusting and despicable move”.

“I’ll be tearing up my season ticket too,” she said.

The signing “shatters any claim to be a community or family club”, and that Goodwillie’s presence was a “stain on the club”.

“Goodwillie has never expressed a shred of remorse for the rape he committed,” she added.

The captain of the club’s women’s team, Tyler Rattray, also said she had quit in protest.

She tweeted: “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!”

Image source, PA Media

Image caption, David Goodwillie joins Raith Rovers after five years at Clyde

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon backed Ms McDermid and Ms Rattray’s stances, and said society had to have zero tolerance for sexual violence.

She applauded them for being “principled”, adding: “The fact they’re in this position at all reminds us that our society still has a way to go to make zero tolerance of sexual violence a reality.”

Former prime minister Gordon Brown is a well-known supporter of the Fife club, but said he “cannot support this signing”, adding that he condemned rape and all violence against women.

Andrew Mill, who has been the club’s support director since 2018, submitted his resignation and said he felt unable to continue in his role.

Image caption, Bill Clark resigned as a director over the signing of David Goodwillie

Another director, Bill Clark, said he had also resigned over Goodwillie’s signing.

Mr Clark – who was once club chairman – said it “didn’t feel right”.

“How could I go out and speak to people in the community with young daughters, girls, boys, whatever and say ‘we’re a great community club, come in and join us’ – it just wasn’t going to work.”

He said a majority of board members voted on Monday to sign the player, but he and a minority of the others on the board had raised concerns.

While some had claimed that Goodwillie deserved a second chance, Mr Clark said the striker also had two convictions for assault.

He warned that fans were already voting with their feet.

The club’s supporter liaison officer, Margie Robertson, also resigned, saying: “My values and that of the club are now on a divergent path.”

David Goodwillie is a player whose on-field abilities have rarely been questioned. Quite simply, he does what managers want from strikers – he scores goals.

It was this ability that tempted Raith Rovers to make their move and deal with the consequences.

In his five years with Clyde, he was their captain and top goal scorer.

His former manager Danny Lennon has come out in support, saying that he will be missed.

But his skills as a professional are irrelevant for others, who think that community clubs should be about more than just winning.

A judge in a civil court found that he is a rapist – for many, that can never be dismissed for the sake of footballing success.

The question about whether a football player with that kind of past should also have a future in the game is a debate for fans but a gamble for clubs.

Raith Rovers are now paying the consequences for making the call.

Rape Crisis Scotland said it was “surprised and disappointed” that Raith had signed Goodwillie and called for the decision to be reversed.

It said the move sent “a clear message of disregard to survivors of rape and sexual violence”.

In a statement, the club said they had signed Goodwillie because he was “a proven goal scorer”.

It said his “foremost consideration” was “his footballing ability”.

“While acknowledging the gravity of what happened 10 years ago, as a club we fully support and encourage rehabilitation, and many factors influenced our signing. But first and foremost, this was a football-related decision,” it said.

The statement added that it respected the differing views about Goodwillie’s signing and that it had divided opinion, adding that it wanted to rebuild trust with loyal fans and commercial stakeholders.

BBC Scotland has approached Goodwillie for comment. The player was not involved in the Raith Rovers game against Queen of the South on Tuesday.

Raith Rovers manager John McGlynn told BBC Radio’s Sportsound programme: “The club have made a statement and that’s as far as I’m going to talk about it.

“David has arrived with a tight hamstring and if he was to play and give it 100% he’d likely make it worse and there’s no point risking that. I’m just focusing on the game and that is all I can do as a football manager.”

Image source, SNS Group

Image caption, Goodwillie was at Stark’s Park to watch Raith Rovers’ 3-3 draw with Queen of the South

Before the court case the 32-year-old spent time at Dundee United and Aberdeen and played for Scotland.

Goodwillie’s signing for Clyde in 2017 also attracted criticism, but the club defended its decision and said people should be allowed to rebuild their lives after mistakes.

Some Clyde fans said they were sorry to see him go and praised him for his contribution to the club.

Civil action

Denise Clair said she was raped by Goodwillie and another player at a flat in Armadale, West Lothian, in 2011 after a night out in nearby Bathgate.

Both Goodwillie and Dundee United player David Robertson accepted that they had sex with her but maintained it was consensual.

Police investigated the incident but no criminal prosecution took place.

Ms Clair, who waived her right to anonymity, maintained in a subsequent civil action that she had been raped by both men.

Lord Armstrong ruled that because of her “excessive intake of alcohol and, because her cognitive functioning and decision making processes were so impaired” that she “was incapable of giving meaningful consent, and that they each raped her”.

He ordered them to pay her £100,000 in damages.

It was the first civil rape case of its kind in Scotland.

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