Best-selling crime writer Val McDermid has ended a lifelong relationship with Raith Rovers, and cancelled a sponsorship deal, after the second-tier Scottish club signed a player who was ruled a rapist by a judge in a civil case.
The Championship club signed 32-year-old former Scotland international David Goodwillie from Clyde late on transfer deadline day on Monday.
At a civil case at the Court of Session in Edinburgh in 2017, Goodwillie and his former Dundee United team-mate David Robertson were ordered to pay damages of PS100,000 to a woman they had raped, a judge ruled. No criminal charges had been brought against either of them.
Former Blackburn and Aberdeen striker Goodwillie left Plymouth in the wake of the ruling and has played for Clyde in Scotland’s lower two divisions since then, hitting 109 goals in 176 appearances.
McDermid, a former Raith director whose name adorns the club’s home shirts, had warned against the signing several weeks ago and her stance has been backed by Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon.
The novelist, who has sold more than 17 million books, wrote on Twitter: “I have this morning ended my lifelong support of Raith Rovers over their signing of the rapist David Goodwillie.
“I have cancelled next season’s shirt sponsorship over this disgusting and despicable move. This shatters any claim to be a community or family club.
“Goodwillie has never expressed a shred of remorse for the rape he committed. His presence at Starks Park is a stain on the club.
“I’ll be tearing up my season ticket too. This is a heartbreaker for me and many other fans, I know.”
In a later post on social media, she added: “The thought of the rapist David Goodwillie running out on the pitch at Starks Park in a Raith Rovers shirt with my name on it makes me feel physically sick.”
McDermid, whose father was the Rovers scout responsible for signing the club’s greatest player, Jim Baxter, added that the move was “a terrible day not just for Raith Rovers but for women who support football”.
The captain of the club’s women’s team, Tyler Rattray, announced she was quitting playing for the team.
In a tweet, she said: “After 10 long years playing for Raith, it’s gutting I have given up now because they have signed someone like this and I want nothing to do with it!”
The First Minister described McDermid and Rattray’s responses as “principled – though difficult for both of them”.
Sturgeon added: “But the fact they’re in this position at all reminds us that our society still has a way to go to make zero tolerance of sexual violence a reality.”
Rape Crisis Scotland, a group which campaigns to end sexual violence, claimed Raith’s decision was a “clear message of disregard to survivors of rape”.
Raith manager John McGlynn claimed the signing was crucial to their promotion push.