Raith Rovers are looking to “broaden the experience and expertise” of the board in a bid to get fans back onside following the controversial signing of David Goodwillie.
The Championship club say consultations on a “thorough review” of the board of directors are already underway as they look to build bridges with a support left outraged over the deadline day signing of the former Scotland forward who was branded a rapist in a civil court case.
In a statement released on Tuesday the club admits they are facing a uphill task to regain the trust of the fans and begin to repair the “reputational and financial damage” caused by the move.
Crime-writer and Raith supporter Val McDermid was the first to pull her financial support from the Kirkcaldy club following the signing of Goodwillie from Clyde.
The women’s team captain Tyler Rattray then quit and several club employees and volunteers also showed their disgust by burning bridges with the club.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon also spoke out against the move and urged Raith’s board to “re-think” the signing.
Despite and initial statement defended their intentions as “purely football” and citing the fact Goodwillie, who also played for Dundee United and English Premier League side Blackburn Rovers, is a “proven goal-scorer” as a reason for the move, the club finally admitted defeat and backed down.
But by the time they released a second statement apologising, and saying the controversial forward would not play for the club, the damage had already been done with many supporters and the women’s team who quit to join the newly formed McDermid Ladies.
In their most recent statement released on Tuesday, the club again apologised for the signing and detailed the actions being taken to help rectify the situation.
It said: “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 has 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.”
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