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David Goodwillie: Signing could be 'devastating' for women's football

David Goodwillie: Signing could be 'devastating' for women's football

Raith Rovers' decision to sign David Goodwillie has been described as "badly misjudged" by the chief executive of Scottish Women's Football.

Aileen Campbell said the move could have "devastating" consequences for the women's game in Scotland.

Author Val McDermid said Raith Rovers' girls and women's teams had started to sever ties with the club.

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

Two Raith Rovers directors and the captain of its women's team have resigned in protest at his signing.

Ms McDermid has withdrawn her sponsorship of the club over the move.

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

Speaking to BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland programme, Aileen Campbell urged the club to reconsider its decision.

The chief executive of Scottish Women's Football, who is a former MSP, said: "The fact the women's club have lost their captain as a result of this is devastating.

"That would be a devastating consequence to lose women from the game as a result of this poor decision."

Ms McDermid told BBC Radio Four's Woman's Hour that she was now focusing on supporting the Raith Rovers' girls and women's teams, from under-10 to senior level.

She said the signing of Goodwillie had left the women's teams "appalled and horrified".

"They had a meeting last night and the upshot of that is, essentially, they want to completely distance themselves from Raith Rovers Football Club," she said.

"They are currently, as we speak, having new shirts printed that don't have the Raith Rovers crest on them.

"They are committed to playing their fixture on Sunday not at Stark's Park, Raith Rovers' ground, but at another ground in the town, at the Windmill pitches."

Ms McDermid said they were also talking about changing the name of the club and were "adamant they no longer wish to be associated with Raith Rovers".

She also said that she had been assured there was no substance to rumours that Goodwillie would join in the January transfer window.

The author said she spoke to Raith Rovers' chief executive, who told her the club had "no interest" in the player.

"Next thing I know she is negotiating his transfer, so there you go, that's the kind of people we are dealing with here," she said.

Ms McDermid, whose father was a scout for the club, told the programme the signing and its fall-out had been "heartbreaking" for her.

The author was the Scottish Championship team's main shirt sponsor, but said that deal would now end this summer as a result of the signing.

BBC Scotland has asked the club for a response to Ms McDermid's comments.

Judy Hamilton, chair of the Raith Rovers Community Foundation, said she had been shocked to learn about the signing on Monday night and believes the decision "was not risk assessed" by the club.

The captain of the club's women's team, Tyler Rattray, resigned in protest, as did directors Bill Clark and Andrew Mill and supporter liaison officer Margie Robertson.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said society had to have zero tolerance for sexual violence, while former UK prime minister Gordon Brown said he could not support the signing.

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.

Goodwillie, a former Scotland international, was pictured watching from the stands on Tuesday night as his new club drew 3-3 with Queen of the South.

In a statement, the club said it had signed the 32-year-old because he was "a proven goal scorer".

'A football decision'

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.

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.

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

Denise Clair, who waived her right to anonymity, said she was raped by Goodwillie and another player in 2011 after a night out.

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

The judge in the civil case ruled that they both raped Ms Clair, who had been "incapable of giving meaningful consent", and ordered them to pay her £100,000 in damages.

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