Raith boss McGlynn wants chance to ‘right the wrongs’ after Goodwillie signing

Celtic v Raith Rovers – Premier Sports Cup – Celtic Park
(Image credit: Andrew Milligan)

Raith Rovers manager John McGlynn asked for the chance to “right the wrongs” of the signing of David Goodwillie as he apologised to fans and admitted the club had “completely underestimated” the reaction.

The cinch Championship side last week sparked major criticism for their decision to sign Goodwillie from Clyde given he was ruled by a judge in a civil court case in 2017 to have raped a woman.

Rovers initially doubled down on the decision before performing a U-turn four days later.

Former Scotland striker Goodwillie is not training with the club and will not play, and the board is negotiating his contractual situation having handed him a two-and-a-half-year deal.

McGlynn is the first figure from the Rovers hierarchy – other than skipper Kyle Benedictus – to face the media about the signing. He answered a number of questions after the club had initially stated he would make a statement and then focus on discussing Sunday’s Scottish Cup tie at Celtic Park.

McGlynn said: “It’s been extremely difficult for everyone involved and we apologise enormously for the distress that we have brought to our fans, our sponsors, anyone hurt in any way at all. It was never our intention to do that.”

The reaction included two directors and a large number of employees and volunteers quitting, shirt sponsor Val McDermid withdrawing her backing, the women’s team ending ties with the club, and criticism from Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and former Prime Minister and Raith fan Gordon Brown.

McGlynn admitted football ambition had got too far ahead of other considerations.

“We just completely underestimated the feeling and the depth of feeling that has come from that signing,” he added. “We did not anticipate that at all.

“If we could turn the clock back from everyone’s point of view, we would do it in a minute. Everyone has lost here – there’s no winners in this.”

McGlynn did not have any information on why warnings from high-profile author McDermid and other fans were ignored and admitted “we just weren’t ready” for the reaction.

“David has played for the last five years with Clyde,” the former Hearts manager said. “We have been in the same league as Clyde. He has played against us and we have never come across any negativity towards him.

“He has played every week, scored goals, club captain. He’s taken coaching sessions with disabled people, taken coaching sessions with youth teams. We did not expect this.”

McGlynn is keen to stay in position to help the club move on.

“I have been here for the best part of nine years over two periods,” the 60-year-old said when asked if he had considered his position.

“I love the football club, I love working here. I have had to consider an awful lot over the past 10 days, but at the same time I think there’s an awful lot of good work being done here and I want to get the opportunity to right the wrongs.

“If I have made one mistake, I don’t think I should be the fall guy. I want to get the opportunity to build bridges, to get people back and get the team winning again.

“All I can say is that for the length of time I have been here, I think I’m due a chance.”

McGlynn felt the home crowd was about three or four hundred down on usual figures – around a quarter of the core support – for Saturday’s game against Hamilton in poor weather conditions.

When asked if he understood the reaction, he said: “As a husband and a father, I understand it, I get it. All we can do is say we completely made a mistake.

“I have had lots of emails from fans who have followed the club for many, many years, not nasty, just laying out how disappointed they were, and I can understand that.

“We would hope they see the regret we are showing. We made an error and it’s an enormous error. We are trying to get the trust back of our fans and sponsors.

“We are not bad people. I’m not a bad person. I just want a chance to make it right.”

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