FC Sorrento have become the latest club to backtrack on signing former Scotland striker David Goodwillie in the wake of a public backlash.
The Australian second-tier side announced on Wednesday that they had recruited the 34-year-old, who was ruled by a judge at a civil court case in 2017 to have raped a woman in 2011.
“SFC are pleased to announce we have added three players to our mid season first team. Clay Gibbs, David Goodwillie & Callum Dobbs have all joined!” read the initial statement from the Perth-based club.
Sorrento head coach Steven McGarry, who played in Scotland when Goodwillie was beginning his career more than a decade ago, added: “With David, we get a player with real quality and experience.
“He’s played in the top leagues in England and Scotland while also representing Scotland at international level so he’s a massive addition to the club.”
After the news was not well-received on social media, however, Sorrento released another statement just hours later revealing they had cancelled Goodwillie’s contract.
“Sorrento Football Club has rescinded its contract with David Goodwillie,” it read.
“David was scheduled to arrive in Perth within the next week to commence playing with the Club for the remainder of the 2023 NPLM season.
“The arrangement was non-commercial in nature.
“The Club has informed David of its decision and apologises to anyone in our football and broader community that may have been caused offence by his signing.”
Sorrento are the third club in 18 months to have been forced into a climbdown over their efforts to sign Goodwillie.
Scottish side Raith Rovers sparked an outcry when they signed Goodwillie from Clyde in February last year and he was released from his contract without playing a match.
Then in February of this year, Northern Premier League side Radcliffe signed the former Dundee United and Blackburn forward and he scored a hat-trick on his debut against Belper Town.
However, having made no prior announcement of his signing, the angry response from the public prompted a change of heart from Radcliffe, who admitted to making “a significant misstep” in signing him and that “our due diligence should have been of a much higher standard”.
Goodwillie and fellow footballer David Robertson were deemed by a judge at a civil court in January 2017 to have raped a 30-year-old woman at a property in Armadale, West Lothian, after a night out in nearby Bathgate in January 2011. Criminal charges against Goodwillie were dropped in 2011 due to lack of evidence.
Goodwillie left English club Plymouth “by mutual consent” days after the civil court ruling and just two months later, in March 2017, he signed for Clyde despite fierce criticism of the Bully Wee’s decision to give him a deal.
A year later, in March 2018, Goodwillie was allowed to do a rare post-match interview in which he outlined his desire to return to full-time football.
“Of course I’ve got aspirations of going back up a level,” he said after scoring his 25th goal of his first season at the club in a League Two win away to Cowdenbeath.
“I want to play for as long as I can at whatever level I can.
“I need to be respectful to Clyde, though, because they believed in me and gave me a chance and I’ll always be thankful for that. I’ll give everything I can to Clyde for as long as I’m here.
“The way the fans and the chairman have been with me means a lot. I take that really deep.
“The fans have taken me in when they might not have, so I’m really thankful for that and appreciate it every single time I step out on the pitch for them.
“Ask any footballer and they’ll say they want to play at the highest level they can. I play football just to breathe and feel freedom. When you cross that line, you’ve got no worries, no stress.”