Raith Rovers: 'Goodwillie signing poor and badly misjudged', says Scottish Women's Football chief
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Aileen Campbell, CEO of Scottish Women's Football said that Raith Rovers would need to ‘think and reflect’ on their loss of a footballing community after they announced the permanent signing of David Goodwillie.
In 2017, Lord Armstrong ruled David Goodwillie alongside his then-teammate David Robertson had raped a 24-year-old woman in a 2011 civil court case.
The decision to sign the footballer caused outrage and upset across the country including backlash from club sponsor Val McDermid, Rape Crisis Scotland and Nicola Sturgeon.
The captain of the club’s women’s team, Tyler Rattray, announced she was quitting playing for the team.
Aileen Campbell, the chief executive of Scottish women’s football told BBC’s Good Morning Scotland on Wednesday morning that the decision was ‘poo’r and ‘sent a wrong message to society’ –particularly to women.
She said: “I think the decision has been a poor one. It’s been badly misjudged. It sends the wrong signal and message to society and particularly so to women.
"The fact that the women’s club has lost its captain as a result of this is devastating and that would be a devastating consequence to lose women from the game as a result of this poor decision.”
The chief executive said that Scottish Women’s Football has offered support to the Raith Rovers women’s club and the women’s team to ‘help them through this’.
Ms Campbell added: "Football has real influence and sway particularly over young fans and that’s why this decision feels poor because it does have impact.
"We can’t shy away from the fact that football has huge influence off the pitch as well and we should endeavour to make sure that influence is a positive one.
"The overwhelming support we’ve seen for Val McDermid and Tyler Rattray shows that society doesn’t want to accept violence against women and that’s a good thing but we need to do more as a sport and as a society.”
Asked if Raith Rovers should cancel Mr Goodwillie’s contract, Ms Campbell said the club ‘need to think and consider’ their decision and reflect on the loss of fans, staff and team members as they have ‘tarnished their reputation’.
Councillor Judy Hamilton, chair of the Raith Rovers community foundation commented that the image of the Raith Rovers family has been ‘seriously impacted and eroded’ and agreed that the decision was misjudged.
Councillor Hamilton said: “I think that the decision is very risky and I think the fallout and reaction to that decision was not risk assessed.
“We’ve spent a lot of time focusing and building the image of the Raith Rovers as the Raith Rovers family and I think that every little girl that plays in the Go Girls programme, every woman that plays in the women and girls programme and every little boy that runs out on Stark’s Park thinks that they are part of that family and I think they were disregarded in that decision.
"We had yesterday parents of children saying they are withdrawing them from our programmes, we’ve had women withdrawing from the social football.
"The ramifications go beyond the high-profile resignations and into community resignations as well.
"It needs to be rethought.”