PARTY leaders were united as they urged Clyde FC to stop playing rapist David Goodwillie.
The Scottish Labour, Conservative and Lib Dem leaders spoke out as an MSP called on North Lanarkshire Council – which owns Clyde’s Broadwood Stadium – to ban the striker from playing there.
The club’s directors have failed to make any sanction against the striker since his failed appeal against a court judgement that branded him a rapist.
Labour leader Richard Leonard said: “It is time now for Clyde FC to part company with Goodwillie and for the Scottish Football Association (SFA) to ensure such a situation cannot arise again.”
Ruth Davidson, Scottish Tory leader, said: “Clyde FC, like any employer, needs to show it takes issues of sexual violence seriously and act appropriately.”
And Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie said: “Every day David Goodwillie kicks a ball in front of the paying public is a day of shame for Clyde.
“Football is entertainment but there is something so wrong about being entertained by a rapist.
“It is an insult to every person who has been raped. His football career should be over.”
Meanwhile, MSP Elaine Smith is calling on North Lanarkshire Council to ban the striker from playing at Broadwood Stadium, which is owned by the local authority.
The MSP for Central Scotland, who sits on Holyrood’s local government and communities committee, said the player should not be playing for Clyde and called on the council to act, saying: “Allowing their tenant, Clyde FC, to continue playing a man found to be a rapist by two separate courts and four of Scotland’s senior judges, must be reviewed as a matter of urgency.
“I’m writing to the council, asking they do that, and do it quickly. Goodwillie may not be a council employee, but he is playing football on local authority property.
“I believe the council, as Clyde’s landlord, has a duty and social responsibility to send a message that his behaviour is unacceptable and that Goodwillie must not be regarded as any kind of role model.”
The footballer who was successfully sued by his victim after rape charges were dropped by prosecutors has refused to accept his guilt, apologise or acknowledge his behaviour was reprehensible.
Clyde have refused to discuss the player’s continued place in the team. When asked if Goodwillie should be sacked, chairman Norrie Innes replied: “For what?”
Approached for comment last week, Mr Innes again declined to comment but added: “We trust in our community, and people’s ability to consider matters and act where they seek reassurance and without channelling the same through the press or politicians.”
Goodwillie and fellow professional David Robertson targeted Denise Clair, 30, at New Year 2011 when they raped her and left her naked and alone in an empty flat in West Lothian.
When prosecutors decided to drop the case against the pair, Denise successfully sued them for damages with judges ruling they had raped her.
Lord Armstrong ruled: “Both defenders took advantage of the pursuer when she was vulnerable…they each raped her.”
Yesterday as North Lanarkshire Council insisted that “employment of senior professional footballers is a matter for Clyde FC,” one of Scotland’s most respected women’s campaigners said the club must reconsider their position and make a clear statement.
Agnes Tolmie, former chair of the STUC and chair of the Scottish Women’s Convention, also called on Clyde to act: “Clyde FC need to reconsider and make a public statement that they consider violence towards women to be unacceptable.”
Denise’s MSP, Neil Findlay, condemned the club which has links with a charity which received £140,000 from the Government’s Keep Scotland Beautiful budget.
Clyde FC Community Foundation received the cash in March 2016 when Scottish Sports Minister Aileen Campbell said the funding was to “support engagement with the local community”.
Mr Findlay, the Lothian Labour MSP, condemned Clyde for its lack of action and said people are now looking to the SFA to send a message to the club that they should not play a footballer who has so spectacularly brought the game into disrepute.
He added: “The facts of this case speak for themselves, which is why four judges, in two separate court rulings, examined all the evidence and said that Goodwillie is a rapist.
“The SFA have an opportunity to make a difference now. We are looking to them to do so.”
Denise and her lawyer, Cameron Fyfe, made legal history when she became the first woman to successfully sue her rapists. In January, Lord Armstrong awarded the former prison service education officer £100,000.
Goodwillie, 28, and Robertson, 30, who has since retired from football, appealed the ruling but, last month, three Appeal Court judges upheld Lord Armstrong.
But while the SFA continue to examine the issue, Denise and Mr Fyfe revealed yesterday they are planning to invoke the SFA’s rules in a bid to bring pressure to bear.
Denise said she had lodged a formal complaint against Clyde FC and Goodwillie, alleging both breached SFA rule 94.1 on bringing the game into disrepute.
SFA rule 94.1 dictates that: ”No recognised football body, club, official, Team Official or other member of Team Staff, player, referee or other persons under the jurisdiction of the Scottish FA shall bring the game into disrepute.”
Mr Fyfe said: “That couldn’t be any clearer, and we expect them to take the action required.”
Chair of the Scottish Women’s Convention
“The depth of evidence means the club need to reconsider and state they consider violence towards women to be unacceptable.”
“We trust in our community and people’s ability to consider matters and act where they seek reassurance without channelling the same through the press or politicians.”
“I believe the council as landlord has a duty and social responsibility to send a message that his behaviour is unacceptable and that Goodwillie must not be regarded as any kind of role model.”
Scottish Conservatives leader
“Clyde Football Club, like any employer, needs to show it takes issues of sexual violence seriously and act appropriately.”
Scottish Labour leader
“Denise Clair was badly let down by the criminal justice system. The Scottish football system should not make the same mistake.”
Scottish Liberal Democrats leader
“Football is entertainment but there is something so wrong about being entertained by a rapist. It is an insult to every person who has been raped.”