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‘We got it wrong’: Raith Rovers backtrack on decision to sign David Goodwillie

© SNS GroupDavid Goodwillie watches Raith's game against Queen of the South on Tuesday
David Goodwillie watches Raith's game against Queen of the South on Tuesday

Raith Rovers chairman John Sim has admitted ‘we got it wrong’ as the club backtracked on their controversial signing of striker David Goodwillie.

The Scottish Championship side have faced fierce backlash and multiple resignations over the deal to bring the former Scotland player to the club.

In 2017, Goodwillie and his former Dundee United team-mate David Robertson were ruled by a civil court judge to have raped a woman.

In a statement on the club’s website on behalf of the board, Sim 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.

“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.”

Profile: Raith Rovers board members who presided over David Goodwillie transfer

The signing of Goodwillie, who has played for Clyde since 2017, made headlines worldwide, with two board members quitting in protest.

Crime writer Val McDermid ended her sponsorship and support of the club over the signing, saying she has now pivoted to support the women and girls’ teams.

The lifelong fan said the women’s and girls teams were “appalled and horrified” by the signing.

She said she welcomed the news that Goodwillie would not play for the club, but that it was just the “first step on a long road back”.

Earlier this week, Tyler Rattray, captain of Raith women’s team, quit in protest after the Kirkcaldy club signed Goodwillie.

Remaining members of the team were planning to distance themselves from the club, removing the crest from their shirts and moving their fixtures to another ground.

Nicola Sturgeon also condemned the signing, as did former prime minister Gordon Brown, himself a Raith fan.

David Goodwillie to Raith Rovers: The inside story of money, motives and misjudgement behind shock transfer

Raith had defended the signing earlier this week.

A statement released by the club before playing Queen of the South on Tuesday said: “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.

“But first and foremost, this was a football related decision.”

Club captain Kyle Benedictus had also given his backing to Goodwillie.

Goodwillie and Robertson were sued for damages by victim Denise Clair, who waived her right to anonymity, in 2017.

After a civil court ruled they had raped her following a night out in West Lothian in 2011, she was awarded £100,000 in damages.

The pair denied the allegation and lost an appeal against the judgment.