THOUSANDS of Reading FC fans supporters took to the streets of the town to march in protest against the club’s owner Dai Yongge.
Congregating outside Blue Collar Corner ahead of the Royals’ fixture against Portsmouth, they – joined by former player David Kitson – marched 2.5 miles to the Select Car Leasing Stadium, chanting and raising placards in support of their club, which has been docked 16 points and numerous transfer embargoes in the past three seasons for breaching the EFL’s financial guidelines.
The march was a nod to the 1983 protest around 1,000 Reading fans took part in to resist media mogul Robert Maxwell’s plans to merge the club with rivals Oxford United.
Speeches were delivered by MPs Matt Rodda and James Sunderland, but arguably the most rousing words came from Reading Borough councillor, and lifelong Royals fan, John Ennis, who also attended the march four decades ago.
He said: “The idea of today is a day of hope, not just a day of anger. We’re showing potential owners that we have a massive fanbase in Reading and they deserve good owners. We’ve got a [football] ownership problem in this country, we want some decent owners who will respect our football club.”
Reading supporter Matthew Tomas attended his first Royals game in 2003 and also felt it important to be at the protest. He explained: “My dad took me, his dad, my granddad, took him. I think the future of this club is really important so I can take my children and they can take their children. There needs to be a football club in this town.”
It was a truly family affair for Ross Gibb who turned up to the march with his father – the person who introduced him to the club.
With the club being served a fresh winding up petition by HMRC on Tuesday, the risk of administration is once again on the lips of supporters.
“Reading is all I’ve ever known,” Ross explained. “I want the next generation of my family to know this club has a future and want them to be able to support Reading Football Club as well.
“I don’t want to see it go at the end of the year, I want it to be a forever thing. I go up and down the country and just can’t see it go.”
Andrew Weekes has only missed one game this season and said: “When I heard about this, I was expecting 50-100 people, but the turnout has been much better than I expected. It makes you realise how important the club is to the town. These people have got better things to do with their Saturdays than this, but they’re still here.
“The club is very important to me, I’ve been following the club for 13 years. Even though we’re dreadful, we lose every week, it’s still something to do on the weekends and I’ve made so many friends through following the club. We cannot afford to lose this club, that’s the bottom line.”