Clyde women’s team quit club over signing of David Goodwillie | Clyde

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Clyde’s women’s team have dramatically quit the club after the men’s side re-signed David Goodwillie, as the backlash against the striker – found by a civil court in 2017 to have raped a woman – showed no sign of abating.

North Lanarkshire Council – which owns the club’s stadium – threatened to end Clyde’s lease early if they allow Goodwillie into Broadwood and will not renew the lease when it expires next year, stating it had “a responsibility to the wider community to act, and to send a clear signal that abuse must not be tolerated”.

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The Scottish League One side Clyde confirmed the loan signing of Goodwillie from Raith Rovers until the end of the season on Monday.

The announcement at the end of January that the Kirkcaldy club were signing the 32-year-old from Clyde prompted anger and disgust from supporters and a string of resignations of senior Raith officials.

Val McDermid, the best-selling crime author and a devoted Raith fan, immediately withdrew her shirt sponsorship, denouncing the signing as “disgusting and despicable”.

Now the entire playing squad of Clyde’s women’s team and the general manager David McGoldrick have followed the lead of Raith Rovers’ women’s team, who cut ties with the men’s club and renamed themselves McDermid Ladies after the novelist stepped in to pay for new strips, without the club crest.

In a statement, the women’s team said: “As a group of female footballers all we wish to do is play the sport that we love but due to the current circumstances we are unable to do this.”

Welcoming their announcement, McDermid told the Guardian: “I’m glad to see Clyde Ladies taking a principled stand and I wish them great good luck. The world has moved on over the last five years, and it’s clear that there is much less acceptance of violence against women and girls. They’ll find support in all sorts of quarters, and their decision will make it easier for others to follow suit”.

North Lanarkshire Council confirmed it had written to the club on Thursday, in a strongly worded statement in which it “utterly condemns all and any violence towards, or abuse of, women”.

“The council believes in rehabilitation, and has services which provide this. However, Mr Goodwillie has not expressed any contrition in relation to the rape which the court found he had committed in the civil action against him. In re-signing Mr Goodwillie, Clyde FC has not acknowledged that background or community concerns, instead choosing to focus on enabling Mr Goodwillie to play football”.

It went on to note “some people have questioned why the council is only taking action now given that Mr Goodwillie has played for Clyde for a number of years” but clarified that the stadium had only recently reverted to direct council control.

Goodwillie and his former Dundee United teammate David Robertson were sued for damages for rape by Denise Clair, who waived her right to anonymity, in a landmark case in 2017.

The pair had not been prosecuted, but the civil court ruled they had raped Clair after meeting her on a night out in West Lothian in 2011. She was awarded £100,000 in damages. They denied the allegation and appealed against the judgment, but lost.

Goodwillie was fined £250 for punching a man in a Stirling nightclub in 2008, and four years later pleaded guilty to assaulting a man in Glasgow city centre.

Responding to the re-signing by Clyde, Rape Crisis Scotland said: “Footballers are role models; it is not OK to have someone in this position who has been found by a senior judge to be a rapist. This is a shameful decision that sends yet another clear message of disregard to survivors of rape and sexual violence.”

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