Lesbian author Val McDermid pulls lifelong support of football team for signing ‘rapist’ player

Val McDermid, a white woman, wears a blue shirt and a grey scarf that her hands are clutching onto

Scottish writer Val McDermid has withdrawn her “lifelong” support of Raith Rovers Football Club (FC) over the signing of “rapist” player.

McDermid, who is known for her best-selling fictional crime novels, was a seemingly die-hard supporter of the team. She was previously a Raith Rovers FC board member, has been a shirt sponsor for the team and has a stand at the ground named after her.

However, the author said in a lengthy post on Twitter that this partnership would now come to an end after the Raith Rovers signed David Goodwillie, who she described as a “rapist”.

Goodwillie was ruled to be a rapist and ordered to pay damages in a civil court case in 2017, but he never faced criminal proceedings.

McDermid wrote that she has now pulled her “lifelong support” and also cut “next season’s shirt sponsorship” as a result of this “disgusting and despicable move”.

“This shatters any claim to be a community or family club,” she said. “Goodwillie has never expressed a shred of remorse for the rape he committed.”

She continued: “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.”

Raith Rovers has faced fierce backlash over the signing of Goodwillie from not only Val McDermid but also from fans, Rape Crisis Scotland and first minister Nicola Sturgeon.

Sturgeon has called on the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) to take action and intervene over the controversial signing.

The first minister said it would be “appropriate” for the SPFL to be involved as there is a “responsibility on football clubs” to make sure that footballers are positive role models for young people.

“We are talking about a football player who in a civil court was found to have raped a woman, who as far as I’m aware, has never shown any remorse or reflection and I think that sends a really damaging message,” Sturgeon said.

“I think it tells us that while we talk about the importance of tackling sexual violence and abuse of women, we have an awful long way to go to make zero tolerance of sexual violence as a reality.”

Rape Crisis Scotland said it is “surprised and deeply disappointed” that the club is “happy to send such a clear message of disregard to survivors of rape and sexual violence” in signing Goodwillie.

“Fundamentally – though it seems Raith FC do not agree – women’s lives are more important than men’s talent or careers,” the charity wrote. “Footballers are role models – particularly for young people – and it’s not OK to have someone in this position who has been found by a senior judge to be a rapist.”

A Raith Rovers player wears an uniform with Scottish writer Val McDermid's name on it

Val McDermid’s name appears on the Raith Rovers strips during a championship match against the Queen of the South on 1 February 2022. (Euan Cherry/SNS Group via Getty)

In the wake of the signing, fans have come together to raise over £9,000 for Rape Crisis Scotland after the Goodwillie signing.

Martin Glass, a Raith Rovers season ticket holder, told the Courier that he started the fundraising campaign to at least be able to get a “tiny bit of good out of this situation”.

Raith Rovers FC acknowledged in a statement that the club knew signing Goodwillie would result in “divided opinion amongst our loyal fans and commercial stakeholders”.

The team described Goodwillie as a “proven goal scorer” and had already considered “him to be part of the Raith Rovers Football Club”.

“As with all new signings, the club has carefully considered our position as a community club and we completely respect the differing views among fans and stakeholders, many of whom we have spoken to directly in the past 24 hours and are continuing to engage with,” the club wrote.

Raith Rovers FC acknowledged the “gravity of what happened 10 years ago”, but it said the club “fully support and encourage rehabilitation”. The club said it would also aim to rebuild trust with fans and stakeholders.