After the disappointing, but possibly inevitable, sale of captain Matt Mills to fellow Championship side Leicester City we thought it was about time we addressed the question - Are Reading a selling club. Here Michael Wade, Daniel Wimbush and Jon Keen attempt to tackle the debate head on - but we want you to have your say too - so get involved via Facebook and Twitter @thetilehurstend and we will publish the best views.
Yes - Reading ARE a selling club by Michael Wade
Dave Kitson, Nicky Shorey, Kevin Doyle, Stephen Hunt, Gylffi Sigurdsson and now Matt Mills. Who's next Shane Long, Jimmy Kebe, Jem Karacan and Alex Pearce?
The unfortunate realisation I am coming to is that Reading are a selling club. Every player has their price and when that is met by someone higher up in the food chain we nod meekly and part with our best players.
It's fine to argue that we got good money for Mills, and we did, for a player in the final year of his contract who had already rejected the offer on the table we got remarkably good money for him. But it doesn't detract from the sad truth that our captain has walked out on us for a team of similar stature in our division, and that we have now lost three central defenders this summer.
I am in no doubt defensive reinforcements will come in, and I am aware of the fact that to an extent it has always been this way regarding the sales of our best players to bigger clubs but the club is in a different position to the one it has always been in.
In the last decade we have reached the top-flight for the first time in the club's history and established ourselves as one of the consistently biggest sides in the Championship with very real aspirations of gaining promotion to the Premier League and building – much like a Bolton Wanderers, Fulham or Stoke City have done.
But can we do this if we are forever intimating at a lack of ambition whenever a 'bigger club' comes calling for one of our top names. If Reading continue to sell their assets, regardless of the sum received, we might as well get used to Championship football because it is all we can achieve. Are Reading a selling club – the list of talent lost speaks for itself.
NO - Reading ARE NOT a selling club by Daniel Wimbush
No, not as far as I'm concerned at least not in the sense that we're talking about! The club has never been forced to sell a player at a cut price and has managed to make significant profits on players who have subsequently gone on to underachieve.
Every significant departure from the club in recent seasons has been driven by the players themselves rather than the club. Since relegation from the Premier League, Nicky Shorey, Dave Kitson, Kevin Doyle, Andre Bikey and Stephen Hunt have all gone to try and continue their trade in the top flight and not one of them was ever likely to want to spend another season in the Championship.
Similarly Gylfi Sigurdsson elected to join a club in the German top flight who had European prospects, a move the vast majority of players would make. Yesterday's departure of Matt Mills was for a ludicrous fee to a player who had 1 year left on his contract and had reportedly turned down a chance of a new deal.
In those circumstances I find it hard to accept that we're a selling club. We certainly sell players but on terms that are favourable to the club and only sell players who want to go, rather then being pushed out of the door.
At the same time we've continued to make sensible purchases and spend wages on players who fit the Reading mould. Since relegation we've had Noel Hunt (800k) Chris Armstrong (500k) Jay Tabb (500k) Jobi McAnuff (800k) Matt Mills (2m) Shaun Cummings (400k) Mikele Leigertwood (£1m?) join the club and have also spent wages on retaining Premier League era players and on loan signings from PL clubs.
So are we a selling club.... NO, we're a well run club who are prepared to do right by the player and who have done a great job at getting the maximum return on players who have made clear their desire to leave.
Why every club IS a selling club by Jon Keen
Is Reading a selling club? Has the Pope changed religion, and do we have any information on the toilet habits of ursine mammals?
Because every club in the world – with the possible exception of one or two in Spain – is a selling club, if by “selling club” you mean that they place a nominal value on every player they have, and if they receive an offer value over that figure comes in they cash in on the asset. Because in today’s football there’s just no other way.
Because whilst every player is under contract, the actual significance of contracts these days is minimal. Reading FC, like just about every other club, know that once a player wants to move, and once they’ve mentally “moved on”, then they’re as good as gone. It’s best summed up in the phrase Steve Coppell says he once heard from a football agent “Mr manager - if my player doesn’t get the move he wants then he’ll be a very unhappy player. And we all know how well an unhappy player plays .....”
Because these players are real people, with feelings, families, wants and desires - and not just icons in a game of Championship Manager. And for the vast majority, once another team has waved a cheque book in front of them – a chequebook that is much larger than Reading could ever hope to wave – then it’s inevitable they’ll want to move on. And which one of us wouldn’t jump at the chance of changing companies if we doubled or even trebled our salary in one go.
Reading know from experience that trying to keep a player who wants to move nearly always ends in tears – they tried it with Nicky Shorey in 2007/08, and we all know how that ended up. Yes, Steve Coppell managed it with Steve Sidwell a year earlier, but that was a different scenario since Sidwell didn’t have an offer on the table, and Coppell’s management brilliance was to challenge him to show other clubs why he was worth a move. But for the vast majority of players once a better offer has come in they’re ready to move on – and once they’ve done that they’re as good as lost.
But certainly, Reading don’t want to lose players and they certainly aren’t touting key players out to try to sell them– which is many people’s definition of a “selling club.” But Reading do recognise that once an offer comes in that’s over their valuation it’s not realistic to try and stop the player moving if they want to – because what they’d be left with would be a much less effective player and potentially a disruptive influence.
So if a “selling club” is one that is looking to sell players, then they’re definitely not one of those; but if a “selling club” is one that’s unable to stop players from leaving when better offers come in then they are one of them – but so were Manchester United when Real Madrid came calling for Cristiano Ronaldo!