Raith Rovers say sorry again for David Goodwillie signing and announce board review after 'awful period' for Kirkcaldy club

Raith Rovers have offered a fresh apology to their supporters and announced a review of the make-up of the club’s board of directors in the aftermath of their contentious decision to sign former Scotland striker David Goodwillie.

Attendances at Raith Rovers' Stark's Park ground have fallen in the aftermath of the club's deadline day signing of David Goodwillie. (Photo by Paul Devlin / SNS Group)
Attendances at Raith Rovers' Stark's Park ground have fallen in the aftermath of the club's deadline day signing of David Goodwillie. (Photo by Paul Devlin / SNS Group)

The deadline-day recruitment of Goodwillie from Clyde prompted a furious backlash, including the withdrawal of club sponsor Val McDermid’s backing, as a consequence of the 32-year-old having been ruled a rapist in a civil court action in 2017.

After initially sticking by their decision to sign Goodwillie, Rovers subsequently apologised and announced he would not play for the club.

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The termination of the two-and-a-half year contract he signed is an ongoing process, one which is likely to come at a considerable financial cost to Raith. Estimates suggest a pay-off for Goodwillie could be in the region of £150,000.

David Goodwillie pictured at Stark's Park the day after Raith Rovers signed him from Clyde. (Photo by Euan Cherry/SNS Group).

In a lengthy statement posted on the club’s website on Tuesday afternoon, the Kirkcaldy club outlined their determination to try and repair the rift which has opened up between themselves and many of their supporters over the past two weeks.

Two of Raith’s directors – Bill Clark and Andrew Mill – resigned in protest at Goodwillie’s signing, while a host of club volunteers also quit their roles.

The statement is attributed to the four remaining members of the Raith board – chairman John Sim, vice-chairman David Sinton, operations director Steven MacDonald and commercial director Tom Morgan – along with chief executive Karen Macartney.

They have all faced calls to resign and are now promising to complete a board review by the end of the season, with the aim of ensuring ‘all stakeholders are represented’, and say they will inform supporters of the outcome of their deliberations.

Raith manager John McGlynn, who has also been the target for criticism for his part in the decision to sign Goodwillie for football reasons, issued his own public apology last week when he faced the media ahead of the Scottish Cup fifth round tie against Celtic.

“The board of directors and CEO, having reflected further on what we have already acknowledged was an incorrect decision around a deadline day transfer, would like to provide our supporters, volunteers and the wider community connected to the club with an update,” reads the statement.

“In doing so, we ask that everyone take cognisance of the fact that a number of legal and financial issues are still being discussed with concerned parties, and as such we are restricted to the extent of information we can share at this time.

“The past two weeks have been an awful period in the club’s long and proud history, and once again we want to say sorry for the damage that has been caused and to those affected in any way by the issues raised.

“We fully acknowledge that there is still a long journey ahead of us to reach a position where the many thousands of people who are part of the Raith Rovers family feel they have trust and confidence in those of us who take the day-to-day decisions at the club.

“Some of the first steps on this journey are already underway. We have reached out to the supporters’ groups, and meetings have already taken place, with more planned over the coming weeks to begin discussions that will lead to agreement on a plan to repair the reputational and financial damage.

“We know this will not be easy and we are not underestimating the size of the task ahead of us. It is, however, one we are wholly committed to in the belief that the club can come out of this stronger in the long term.

“The past two weeks have also provided an important reminder that the club relies on the time, energy and commitment of volunteers across many activities. We have never taken our volunteers for granted, and we are saddened that some have taken the decision to step aside from their roles in the current circumstances.

“We fully understand and respect such actions, but it is our hope, and sincere wish, that as we strive to rebuild and repair the trust and relationships within the Rovers family, that they will return to the club.

“Similarly, we hope that those fans whose anger at the events of deadline day have led to them withdraw their support, will judge us on the progress we are promising and in due course feel they are able to make a return to Stark’s Park.

“We have also commenced consultations on a thorough review of the composition board of directors of the club, with a view to broadening the experience and expertise of the board and to ensure that all our stakeholders are fully represented. We will complete this by the end of the season and we will then communicate the results. Meanwhile the remaining four board members, the CEO and all club staff are fully engaged on keeping the club going through this difficult time.

“Finally, as a board and the CEO, we would like to say how proud we were of the team and management for their efforts in the recent cup tie at Celtic Park. The score did not in any way reflect the performance they delivered on the pitch, while the performance and support from the fans off the pitch was also outstanding. It was a reminder of just how precious the link is between the club, the players and those who cheer us on.”

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