‘THIS is a heart-breaking time for Royals fans who want to see urgent action to protect this much-loved club,’ a Reading MP has warned.
Matt Rodda has added his voice to the fan-led campaigns aimed at saving Reading FC from the potential administration.
On Friday, January 19, he wrote to the English Football League (EFL) CEO, Trevor Birch, calling on the league to intervene and resolve the issues to ensure the club can survive.
The Reading East MP said: “(The club) has is one of the oldest in English football; it has played an important role in the lives of many generations of local families. Many Royals fans are now desperately worried about their club’s survival.”
He reminded Mr Birch that the club’s current owner, Dai Yongge, had mismanaged the finances, leading to a transfer embargo and relegation from the Championship. It has also seen redundancies, the loss of key members, players sold without the manager’s knowledge, and fines for failing to meet deadlines for paying staff wages.
“It would seem the current owner no longer intends to provide the very basics in terms of stability and financial support needed for the club to continue to function until a suitable buyer can be found,” Mr Rodda continued.
“While Mr Dai and Reading FC CEO Dayong Pang are still publicly stating the club is for sale, many fans are worried by recent reports that the sale is being delayed due to outstanding debts that the owners would need to pay before a transfer of ownership could proceed.”
This, Mr Rodda continued, makes fans wary that the club could be asset stripped.
“Reading FC could end up as the third of Mr Dai’s football clubs to go out of business,” he added, saying the owner should sell his stake to “appropriate new owners at the earliest opportunity”, while also ensuring the club is funded to pay staff and players on time.
“I would like to join the fan-led campaign groups in asking the EFL to do everything they can within their existing powers to intervene in this serious case and protect our club,” Mr Rodda concluded.
Earlier this week, Mr Birch said: “We share the fans’ frustrations in trying to bring this to a conclusion.
“There is only so much we can intervene given UK corporate law and our regulations. All we can do is try to encourage the owner to sell and divest his ownership if he hasn’t got the desire to fund the club.
“We tried in November to take the owner to a hearing in order to make sure players and staff were to be paid on a regular basis and required the owner to deposit 125% of the monthly amounts in a deposit account.
“Unfortunately, he reneged on that and we tried to seek a disqualification. Unfortunately, the hearing would rather enforce a fine rather than disqualification.”