Scottish club Raith Rovers criticised for signing striker ruled to be a rapist in 2017 case

Scottish football club Raith Rovers have faced criticism and seen several members of staff resign over their decision to sign striker David Goodwillie, who was ruled a rapist in a civil case in 2017.

Two club directors, the captain of its women's team, the employability officer for the club's community foundation and shirt sponsor Val McDermid have all ended their association with the club.

Scotland's first minister Nicola Sturgeon and former prime minister of the United Kingdom Gordon Brown -- who is a supporter of the club -- have also both condemned the decision.

Goodwillie was found to have raped in a civil case in Scotland in 2017 alongside another footballer David Robertson and ordered to pay damages. The pair denied the allegation and appealed the decision but lost.

Goodwillie did not face a criminal trial as prosecutors said there wasn't enough evidence.

Women's captain Tyler Tattray said on Twitter: "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 club's shirt sponsor McDermid -- a best-selling crime author -- said the signing was "disgusting and despicable" and confirmed that she would be ending her sponsorship.

"I have this morning ended my lifelong support of @RaithRovers 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," she said on Twitter.

"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."

McDermid later confirmed to BBC Woman's Hour that the women's side were having new jerseys printed without the club's crest and they were exploring changing the name of the side.

"They want to completely distance themselves from Raith Rovers football club. They are currently, as we speak, having new shirts printed that don't have the Raith Rovers crest on them," she said.

"They are committed to playing their fixture on Sunday not at Stark's Park, the Raith Rovers ground, but at another ground in the town at the Windmill pitches. They are talking about changing the name of the club but that is obviously something they will have to discuss with Scottish women's football. But they are adamant that they no longer want to be associated with Raith Rovers and that is where I am focusing my attention now."

The club released a statement on Tuesday in relation to the backlash following the signing of Goodwillie which prompted further anger.

"David is a proven goalscorer, and this will be his second stint with the club, having previously played for us on loan from Dundee United during season 2007-08," the statement said.

"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.

"As David has previously played for Raith Rovers earlier in his career, we consider him to be part of Raith Rovers Football Club. The management team is familiar with David's career and background and -- in particular -- his footballing ability. That is our foremost consideration, and we believe that he will strengthen the Raith Rovers playing squad.

"Please be assured that as a community football club we fully acknowledge this signing has divided opinion amongst our loyal fans and commercial stakeholders; We aim to rebuild that trust.

"While acknowledging the gravity of what happened 10 years ago, as a club we fully support and encourage rehabilitation, and many factors influenced our signing.

"First and foremost, this was a football related decision."

Goodwillie has been convicted of assault two times as well as the 2017 civil finding of rape.

He has spent the last five years at Clyde and was named captain of the side ahead of the 2019-20 season.