CALLS have made for a change of leadership at Raith Rovers following the David Goodwillie controversy.
The Scottish Championship club made a u-turn this morning and issued a statement admitting “we got it wrong” over the signing of David Goodwillie.
Rovers had initially defended the signing as a “football-related decision” – but they have now confirmed Goodwillie will not represent the club.
In 2017 a Court of Session judge ruled that Goodwillie and another footballer, David Robertson, had raped a woman, Denise Clair. They were ordered to pay her £100,000 damages. An appeal was rejected.
Val McDermid ended her lifelong support of the Kirkcaldy club and pulled sponsorship of the team shirt over the signing.
Following the statement, she said it was “just the first step on a long road back”.
“I welcome this (unsigned) statement from Raith Rovers,” she said.
“It’s a victory of sorts for the hundreds of people who MAKE the club who were appalled at the board’s original decision, and who were not afraid to speak out.
“But it’s just the first step on a long road back.
“The same people who made the decision are still in charge. Those who love and value the club are still on the outside; they need to be on the inside, shaping the future for the community.”
Negotiations over Goodwillie’s contractual position are set to take place.
Some are now calling for board members to arrange a process of electing a new Chair and Board members and then resign.
One of the Rover’s most famous fans, former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who also condemned the signing said the football club had “made the right decision”.
Mr Brown said: “Raith Rovers FC have made the right decision.
“Now, as I said on Monday, football authorities, given the recent examples, need to consider how we deal with cases of footballers where there has been rape and violence against women.”
The Women’s team associated with Raith Rovers split from the club over the signing of Goodwillie and other senior board members as well as Val McDermid.
Many lifelong fans said they were walking away from the club too.
Neale Hanvey the MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath described the controversy as a “sorry chapter in the history for the club”.
“This is the right decision by Raith Rovers Football Club”, he said.
“They have heard the widespread public anger and acted accordingly.
“This has been a sorry chapter in the history of the Club which was facing an open rebellion from its fan base and the wider community.
“The decision will be warmly welcomed across the whole community and particularly among the many women and girls who expressed their disgust at the decision to award a playing contract to the individual in question.
“However it should not have taken senior figures associated with the Club to withdraw their support and a major public backlash for them to see sense.
“Serious questions must now be asked of the Board and senior management of the Club who have brought us to this sorry place.
“The club must make strenuous efforts to repair damaged relationships and work to reinstate those who took the courageous decision to resign from the club in protest”.