RAPIST footballer David Goodwillie’s club faced mounting condemnation yesterday after they played the striker days after judges threw out his appeal.
His victim, MSPs and campaigners said Clyde FC should be ashamed for refusing to sack the sex-attack striker.
On Tuesday, judges confirmed a civil ruling that Goodwillie and another footballer, David Robertson, had raped a woman in January 2011 and ordered him to pay £100,000 in compensation.
But, yesterday, he was picked for Clyde against Montrose at Broadwood stadium, in Cumbernauld.
His victim Denise Clair said the refusal to drop the player was hard to believe and branded the club’s directors shameless and hypocritical for continuing to back Goodwillie.
She said: “What are they thinking? They should never have signed him in the first place but to allow him to play only days after judges threw out his appeal shows they just don’t care that he is a rapist.
“It is shocking. They say they are giving him a second chance but that is laughable.
“He has never admitted what he did, never uttered one word of apology.
“Instead, he denied it and denied it and put me through years of torture.
“Clyde have got a player they could not afford otherwise and that is all that matters to them.
“They think they’ve got a bargain but the cost to their reputation is far, far more than any money they’ve saved.
“They call themselves a family club. What kind of family is that? A family without daughters? A family that allows rapists to be applauded like heroes?
“Goodwillie is bad enough but in a way they are worse than he is.”
Denise had successfully sued ex-Scotland striker Goodwillie and former Dundee United player Robertson after prosecutors had refused to take the case to court.
Last week, their appeal against Lord Armstrong’s ruling was unanimously rejected by three appeal judges.
Denise, 30, was raped at a flat in Armadale, West Lothian, after a night out.
Goodwillie, 28, and Robertson, 31, claimed she willingly had sex but CCTV and statements from nightclub stewards showed Denise was clearly too drunk or drugged to consent.
She suspects Goodwillie appealed to prolong the legal proceedings so he could continue to play professional football.
She said: “He probably thought no decent club would sign a rapist but he needn’t have worried. Clyde clearly don’t have any decency.
“Robertson at least had the sense to retire in disgrace and return to obscurity.”
Sandy Brindley of Rape Crisis Scotland backed Denise and said Goodwillie must go.
She said: “It’s high time clubs like Clyde took their responsibility seriously. Sexual violence is, and must always be, a deal-breaker.”
Denise has also been supported by her MSP, Neil Findlay, after bravely giving up her anonymity to pursue the men in the civil courts.
He said Goodwillie should have no future in Scottish football, adding: “Clyde should have shown more sensitivity than to allow him to pull on their jersey.
“Young people look up to players as role models and the sport has to lead by example – this did not show the game in a good light.” In an interview on the club’s website, chairman Norrie Innes defended his decision to sign Goodwillie, saying: “Courage and conviction is required at times, especially when, in this case, you are seeking to help someone when others want to punish him and restrict his human rights.”
He told fans Goodwillie was appealing the civil action against him, and added: “There is no positive purpose or societal gain whatsoever to wish ill on him and allow his talents to stagnate and waste.”
One of Scotland’s top contract experts, Ryan Russell, head of employment law at solicitors Muir, Myles, Laverty, warned Clyde they may have trouble getting rid of Goodwillie now.
He said: “Following the results of the appeal, the chairman of Clyde is in a difficult position.
“He will have to think carefully about the reputation of the club which will be in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons.
“Mr Innes will be under mounting pressure to take action.
“But the club employed Goodwillie at a time when the court had already made its decision and awarded substantial compensation to Ms Clair.”
As a result, Clyde might find it “difficult to justify dismissing him now.”
The solicitor added: “If a contract is in place, Clyde may have to pay him damages if they decide to terminate the contract early.
“While the player has not been convicted of a criminal offence, his public profile and the nature of the allegations have ramifications for any employer.”
Yesterday, the Scottish Football Association said it was also studying the appeal court’s ruling.
A spokesman said: “The compliance officer is aware of the decision and is examining the judgement.”
Fraser Wishart, chief executive of the Scottish Professional Footballers Association, said: “We fully recognise this is an emotive and serious issue that provokes strong feelings. This situation perhaps highlights an area which requires addressing through focused education.
“We have a wellbeing programme at PFA Scotland which offers support and advice on issues such as mental health, addictions and doping, but we recognise this can always be strengthened.
“We would be happy to work with football’s governing bodies, the SFA and SPFL, clubs and relevant groups to develop a lifestyle and personal integrity programme to cover issues including sexual consent, standards of behaviour and respectful relationships in person and on social media.”
We called Mr Innes at the final whistle yesterday but he refused to discuss Goodwillie’s future on the phone. The businessman said he would “only discuss that face to face with a journalist”.
But, a few minutes later, as Mr Innes left Broadwood, our reporter approached him, face to face, and he declined to discuss Goodwillie, saying: “You’re talking to the wrong guy.”
When asked if Clyde should not now sack the player, Mr Innes replied: “For what?”
He described Goodwillie as a “contracted player” but, when reminded that judges had decided he was also a rapist, concluded: “This conversation is going in the wrong direction.”
Enjoy the convenience of having The Sunday Post delivered as a digital ePaper straight to your smartphone, tablet or computer.
Subscribe for only £5.49 a month and enjoy all the benefits of the printed paper as a digital replica.Subscribe