Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown has joined the backlash against Raith Rovers after the club signed footballer David Goodwillie five years after a court ruled he raped a woman.
Mr Brown’s intervention comes after the captain of the club’s women’s team resigned in protest at the signing, while best-selling author Val McDermid withdrew her sponsorship in disgust, saying: ‘The thought of the rapist David Goodwillie running away on the pitch at Starks Parking me in a Raith Rovers shirt with my name on it makes me physically sick”
The former Labor leader, meanwhile, said while he had always supported the Fife club he told them he ‘cannot support this signing’.
Mr Brown said: “I have always supported Raith Rovers but told Raith Rovers I could not support this signing.”
“Due to the number of recent examples in football, I urge football authorities to set out a policy to address instances of violence such as this.”
His comments came amid a series of protests over the Kirkcaldy club’s decision to sign Goodwillie.
The club signed Goodwillie, 32, despite a court ruling in a civil case in 2017 which found he and now-retired player David Robertson raped a woman.
Both men were ordered to pay £100,000 damages to the woman, but no criminal charges were brought against either of them.
Mr Mill, who has been the club’s ‘director of support’ since 2018, said: ‘Most Raith fans will now be aware of the recent events that have taken place over the past two days which have led us to signing David Goodwillie of Clyde FC.
“As a result, I feel I cannot continue as a trustee of Raith Rovers FC and this morning I tendered my resignation.
“Thank you for all of your support during my tenure as your Board representative.
“I hope I have made a difference and, although I may not have understood everything, I can assure you that I have always had the interests of the supporters at heart.”
The club’s supporter liaison officer, Margie Robertson, also announced her resignation in protest.
“I want to thank everyone who encouraged and helped me throughout my tenure. I enjoyed meeting so many fans.
Earlier, Ms McDermid, Raith’s main sponsor, announced she would withdraw funding from the club over Goodwillie’s signing, calling it a ‘disgusting and despicable move’.
The name of the author, who was also a director, is worn on the clubs’ home jerseys and on the South Stand of Stark’s Park.
Another Raith sponsor, Paul Farley of Tag Games, also withdrew funds from the club.
He said: “I have written to Raith Rovers terminating future Tag Games shirt, or any other sponsorship, and requesting that our brand be removed from the shirts for the remainder of the season.
“We stand with Val McDermid and the majority of fans against violence against women.”
The captain of the club’s women’s team, Tyler Rattray, also announced that she would stop playing for the team on Tuesday.
She said: “It was good to be captain of Raith while it lasted”, but she “wanted nothing to do with it” since the club’s decision to face Goodwillie.
Politicians and charities have also taken aim at the club claiming the controversial player’s signing ‘sends the wrong message entirely’.
Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted her support for them, calling their decisions “principled”.
She added: “The fact that they are in this position reminds us that our society still has a long way to go to make zero tolerance for sexual violence a reality.”
A Rape Crisis Scotland spokeswoman said: “We are surprised and deeply disappointed that Raith Rovers FC are happy to send such a clear message of contempt to survivors of rape and sexual violence by signing David Goodwillie.
“It was a bad decision that sends the wrong message entirely, and it should be retracted.”
In response to the backlash, a statement posted on the Raith Rovers website read: “As announced on our website last night, Raith Rovers FC can confirm that we have signed David Goodwillie from Clyde FC.
“David is a proven goalscorer, and this will be his second spell with the club, having played for us on loan from Dundee United in the 2007-08 season.
“As with all new signings, the club have carefully considered our position as a community club and we fully respect the differences of opinion between fans and stakeholders, many of whom have spoken directly over the past 24 hours and continue to engage with.
“As David played for Raith Rovers earlier in his career, we consider him part of Raith Rovers Football Club.
“The management team are aware of David’s career and background and, in particular, his ability as a footballer. This is our primary consideration, and we believe he will strengthen the Raith Rovers squad of players.
“Rest assured that as a community football club we fully recognize that this signing has divided opinion amongst our loyal fans and commercial stakeholders; our aim is to rebuild that trust.
“While acknowledging the seriousness of what happened ten years ago, as a club we fully support and encourage rehabilitation, and many factors have influenced our signing.
“It was first and foremost a football-related decision.”