MORALITY and sport are often unhappy bedfellows. This week, two otherwise unconnected events, brought football face-to-face with its moral responsibilities.

The first was a series of Instagram posts which apparently showed the brutal ­aftermath of assaults on Harriet Robson, the girlfriend of the Manchester United and England footballer Mason Greenwood.

She had left the stark message: “To ­everyone who wants to know what Mason Greenwood actually does to me.”

It is now a live case and much of the most salacious accusations have since been taken down from newspaper websites, but what is clear is that a forensics team from Greater Manchester Police have already swept Greenwood’s luxury home ­seeking ­evidence to support his girlfriend’s ­allegations.

Manchester United has provided the media with a holding statement. “We are aware of images and allegations ­circulating on social media. We will not make any ­further comment until the facts have been established. Manchester United does not condone violence of any kind.”

Greenwood has been told he will not play for Manchester United, nor can he train with them in the meantime. His sponsor Nike have distanced themselves saying: “We are deeply concerned by the disturbing allegations and will ­continue to closely monitor the ­situation.” ­Meanwhile, video game giant EA Sports has removed Mason ­Greenwood from ­active squads in Fifa 22.

The National: Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo shows his frustration during the Premier League match at St. James’ Park, Newcastle.

Without much fanfare, some of his most famous team-mates have severed links ­online – Cristiano Ronaldo and ­Marcus Rashford are just two of the ­players who have unfollowed Greenwood. It is ­important to keep in mind that their ­accounts are often handled by agencies and management corporations, conscious of public image.

It was against this disturbing story that the Kirkcaldy club Raith Rovers, signed the Scottish footballer David ­Goodwillie, who was ruled to be a rapist in civil court case. The Crown had failed to bring ­criminal charges back in January 2011 when Goodwillie and another footballer David Robertson had non-consensual sex with Denise Clair, a prison service ­education officer. Clair pursued her case and sued the pair in the civil courts and won.

Goodwillie’s transfer from Clyde has unlocked a week of recriminations the like of which is rarely seen in Scottish football. But it has also underlined an ­important distinction between global teams like Manchester United and deeply community-based clubs like Raith.

The crime fiction author Val ­McDermid, a Raith Rovers season ticket holder and sponsor has lambasted the club she loved, tearing up her season book and discontinuing her financial support.

“Goodwillie has never expressed a shred of remorse for the rape he ­committed. His presence at Starks Park is a stain on the club, McDermid said, “I’ll be tearing up my season ticket too. This is a ­heartbreaker for me and many other fans, I know.”

McDermid’s (below) emotional attachment to Raith runs deep. Her father was a scout for the club and is credited with ­discovering their greatest ever player, the Scottish internationalist, Jim Baxter.

The National:

“I have cancelled next season’s shirt sponsorship over this ­disgusting and ­despicable move”, she said on ­Twitter. “This shatters any claim to be a ­community or family club.”

It was the affront to this sense of ­community that has defined the crisis. Raith Rovers’s women’s club captain ­Tyler Rattray quit after 10 years at the club and announced that their team would re-brand and seek re-entry to the league under a new identity. Marie ­Penman who had only joined the club’s charitable foundation a month before, in what she described as “her dream job” has withdrawn from the role, as did the Supporter’s Liaison Officer and the club’s match announcer.

Whilst Electronic Arts has withdrawn Greenwood from their brand, the Raith ­Rovers equivalent was smaller and more ­localised. Paul Farley, a developer in the Scottish game’s industry withdrew Tag Games’s sleeve sponsorship from the Raith Rovers shirt. His was a small but proud investment compared with the vast sums spent in the top leagues, but lost ­income of any sort is devastating for Raith Rovers who by all accounts faced a boycott of up to 40% of their regular ­support at their league game midweek.

A gulf has opened up between those clubs that can claim global reach and those that are embedded in communities, where local and family ties are the threads that hold the club together. Only Celtic and Rangers in Scotland can lay claim to having a global reach, the remainder rely on the support of communities with a 15-mile radius of their ground.

The Covid lockdown underlines how important a football club is to its ­community. The stories are endless of players and fans joining forces to supply foodbanks, deliver prescriptions to those shielding and make phone calls to chat to the lonely and vulnerable.

This was the concordat that so many supporters feel Raith Rovers have torn apart.

A statement from the club’s board of ­directors and a clunky message of ­support from Gregory Tade a former Raith player have not helped. Both in their different ways made the specious claim that it was a football matter, all about goals and ­victory on the park.

Women have led but the resistance but significantly numerous men have been quick to take action too. Martin Glass a lifelong Raith fan has led a fundraiser for Rape Crisis Scotland and one of the club’s most famous players Steve ­McAnespie has withdrawn from the club’s Hall of Fame and asked for his name to erased from Raith’s history.

There is a clue here, McAnespie is now based in America and a prominent coach within women’s football. The USA, and in particular its collegiate sports ­system, has turned women’s football into a ­hugely popular spectator sport. This trend is clearly alive in Scotland too, but we are years behind America. McAnespie is now the head coach at Brother Martin High School in New Orleans where he manages a budget that would surprise many lower leagues teams in Scotland.

Within Scottish football many clubs have identified fathers and daughters as the growing demographic and it is vital to the health and well-being of clubs that they are ­acknowledged.

Raith Rovers face the unenviable task of rebuilding the shattered bond with their community support. At first, it ­appeared that the club were willing to take the heat, but the depth of feeling forced a change of course.

On Thursday, the board announced that “the player will not be selected by Raith Rovers, and we will enter into discussions with the player regarding his contractual position.”

Football attracts a multiplicity of ­unfathomable emotions. The Raith ­Rovers board came to realise that their narrow logic was not universally shared and they had alienated many of those who contribute to the club. It was clear that for some fans the appearance of Goodwillie in a Rovers top would have marked the point of no return, others might have grumbled and moved on whilst unquestionably there were some that would have traded goals for the soul of their club.

A hundred unanswered questions have been left behind, Goodwillie has not to my knowledge, shown remorse or even admitted guilt and so questions of his right to rehabilitation will have to wait another day. He was being offered a well-remunerated contract at Raith and as one die-hard fan cogently argued – “why should the burden of his rehabilitation fall on the shoulders of my club?”

This week we have seen the shards of football breaking apart. We are now witnessing the existence of two types of clubs, the global and the local. For some clubs, there are Sheiks and billionaires in the boardroom but for most in Scotland it is the local community that is the biggest and most powerful stakeholder. For most of those survival is more relevant than success.

It is a lesson that Raith Rovers have learnt in the most public and painful of ways.