READING FC fan group Sell Before We Dai has urged supporters not to throw tennis balls on the pitch during tonight’s match against Bristol Rovers in fear of abandonment of the game.
Having demonstrated by throwing tennis balls on the pitch on three separate occasions to pause the match, the EFL has stated to the club that any further protests could results in matches being abandoned.
As a result, SBWD has asked fans not to get the match abandoned.
A statement released by the group reads: “When Sell Before We Dai was formed, one of our founding principles was ‘back the team, not the regime’.
“When we helped organise the tennis ball protests, it was because we had reached a level of desperation. In-game disruption was warranted… and it worked.
“Against Bolton, the tennis ball protest generated headlines and supercharged political support. Against Burton, it galvanised all four stands of the stadium. Against Portsmouth, more than 2,000 Reading fans marched from the town to the ground to call for new owners and tighter regulation. It was natural that tennis ball protests in the stadium would follow.
“Since then, the EFL have made it clear – via the club – that any further in-game disruption could result in match abandonment.
“Put bluntly, we were inclined to ignore them. Administration seemed a certainty, additional disciplinary measures would rub more salt in our wounds and we’d have nothing left to lose. The EFL had abandoned our club – we would abandon one of their matches.
“However, we now believe that tonight’s match is not a match to get abandoned.
“With HMRC paid off, the club is – for now – no longer under the immediate threat of administration. This also greatly reduces the risk of points deductions being applied in the upcoming disciplinary hearings. We also hope it is a sign that the club is nearing a sale.
“Reading’s off-field situation may have just improved slightly, but our on-field situation remains dire. We are bottom of the third tier and we have young players low on confidence. It feels like action tonight would disrupt the team without having enough impact on the regime.
“To be very clear, if our situation worsens again – and especially if the EFL is complicit – match abandonment and in-game disruption are immediately back on the table. We are also actively preparing the next phase of our campaign which will include further engagement with the DCMS, MPs, FSA, Fair Game and other Supporters’ Trusts.”