With problems both on and off the field, 2023 proved to be one of the most challenging in Reading FC’s long history.
Following the end of the break for the 2022 winter World Cup, Reading returned to Championship action and endured a torrid run of form throughout January and the start of February.
A run of six games without a win saw the Royals drop down the table as Paul Ince’s men were gripped into a fight for survival as a dreadful run of form, particularly on the road, negated what had been a promising start.
Reading finally got a couple of home wins under their belt to relieve the pressure with a stoppage time goal from Tyrese Fornah giving them three points against fellow relegation battlers Rotherham United was followed with a 3-1 success against Blackpool.
However, the home win in February over Blackpool proved to be Reading’s last Championship win of the campaign as a horrendous run of form culminated with relegation.
March saw Reading lose four of their five matches which included a 5-0 thumping at Middlesbrough.
In April, off-field problems hampered the team even further when the team were dealt another six point deduction for breaching EFL profit and sustainability rules to make the task of staying in the league even tougher.
A run of three draws on the bounce was followed by a damaging defeat at Preston as the hosts snatched a stoppage time winner.
The club decided for one more roll of the dice to try and secure safety as manager Paul Ince was sacked and replaced by interim boss Noel Hunt for the final five games of the campaign.
Hunt’s first game in charge up against already promoted Burnley gave fans signs of hope as the team battled to a goalless draw.
With another tricky game on the horizon, the Royals had led Luton Town through Andy Carroll’s goal. Disaster then struck when Carroll was shown a second yellow card for handling the ball into the net. The Hatters scored an equaliser as Reading’s survival hopes took another crucial blow.
After defeat to Coventry City and a dismal draw at home to fellow relegation candidates Wigan Athletic, Reading’s fate was sealed before the final day as Neil Warnock’s Huddersfield Town secured survival before the team’s met on the last day of the campaign.
A summer of change started in May as a host of first-team players, including Tom Ince, Yakou Meite, Shane Long and Lucas Joao all departed.
With the club now on the lookout to recruit a new manager for their upcoming season in League One, a saga would unravel.
Reading looked set to appoint experienced coach and former Premier League manager Chris Wilder as their new boss before a deal broke down in the final stage of negotiations.
Following more weeks of uncertainty throughout June and July, Ruben Selles was eventually appointed as the new manager on July 14.
With only a few weeks to work with the team before the opening of the new campaign, the club had their work cut out to try and build a competitive squad.
A total of 13 new arrivals came through the door with a youthful look to the team.
A difficult start to the League One season saw Selles’ side lose their opening two matches with 1-0 defeats to Peterborough and Port Vale.
More troubles were to come with the club given a one point deduction for failing to pay players and staff on time, with a further three points suspended.
After failing to comply with an order to deposit funds, owner Dai Yongge cost the club three more points which were docked in September.
October came with more miserable form in the league as Reading lost all five of their league outings with defeats to Northampton Town, Leyton Orient, Charlton, Fleetwood and Portsmouth.
With fans voicing their anger at owner Dai Yongge, fan group Sell Before We Dai arranged a protest march which saw thousands of fans descend from the town centre to the Select Car Leasing Stadium before the game against Portsmouth.
Having waited 378 days for a league win away from home, the travelling Royals support were finally rewarded in November when goals from Sam Smith and Lewis Wing saw them pick up three points at Wycombe Wanderers.
With the team in another battle for survival as things stand, and ownership issues still plaguing any kind of progress at the club, fans will be hoping for a year of change in 2024.
With the club up for sale, talks with current owner with potential buyers have stalled in recent weeks.