clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Lady Sasima: We Are Doing This To Save The Club

The creator of 'They Call Us The Royals' gave insight into the ownership situation on local radio this morning.

Reading v Leeds United - Sky Bet Football League Championship Photo by Martin Willetts/Getty Images

Reading fans were finally given some concrete information on a potential takeover yesterday, with news that the EFL have conditionally approved a 'change of control' at the club as Chinese brother and sister Dai Yongge and Dai Xiu look to take over.

Of course, currently in charge of the club are Thai trio Sasima Srivikorn, Narin Niruttinanon and Sumrith 'Tiger' Thanakarnjanasuth, who have been in Berkshire since 2014. It has certainly been an eventful three years, and Lady Sasima appeared on BBC Radio Berkshire's Andrew Peach Show this morning to talk about the new ownership and her time with the Royals. We've transcribed the interview, which includes some really fascinating snippets...

On yesterday's club statement:

"There are certain conditions and Mr Dai [Yongge] has to supply them with certain information. For instance, I'm sure they would like to know where the funds are coming from and the transparency of owning a football club in England. It's very strict, which is a good thing."

When asked by Peach why her consortium were selling up with Reading in with a chance of promotion, Lady Sasima confessed that they were struggling to keep pumping money into the club.

"You know, owning a football club is something like I have never experienced in my entire life. It's a lot of money that has to be spent every month, it's very expensive. And if you don't have very, very deep pockets then it's not possible. We are struggling, to tell you the truth. I don't know 100%, but are struggling. Every month we have to spend more money, more money, more money and there's a point where we couldn't afford it comfortably."

Dai Yongge and Dai Xiu certainly weren't the only ones looking to buy the club...

"There have been lots of buyers coming around, looking at the club. I've seen almost ten in all. I have never seen Mr Dai himself or his sister but I have heard about him, his business and what sort of a man he is. We are all very happy about him."

Lady Sasima told Peach that she had the club's best interests at heart, and had never thought of abandoning the project.

"I did say to Reading fans that we'd be here for a long time, we weren't going to 'hit and run' or abandon the club no matter what. That's not what we are doing. We are doing this to save the club. I know that if the club doesn't have the funds, doesn't have the strength of the backup on the monetary side, it's not going to be easy. This way, the Reading fans will not actually lose anything, actually they will gain. If we go to the Premier [League], we're going to have to spend much, much more money than now and we need that sort of backup."

Here's what she knows about the Chinese pair and why they want to buy the football club.

"I have not met them, but I have heard about them all the time. All my partners [Narin and Tiger] have met them, and they went to Hong Kong, they went to Singapore. Actually, right now they are all together in Thailand and I'm here [in England]. I have heard that they are very wealthy, they have business worth about one billion dollars. They are good business people."

"As far as I can gather, my understanding is that there are a specific group of people who want to own a football club especially in England because number one, they like football. Number two, they're passionate about the game. Number three, there is a prestige for them to own an English football club. They get a very high profile in their other business as well. For instance, in my case, I've done tonnes of business. Nobody ever got excited about what I'd been doing but when I entered myself as 25% in [the] football club, the whole country, everyone I met asked me the one same question: why am I football? They are so excited about the reason for being a football owner."

If the deal doesn't go through, she reassured fans that there would be no need to panic but it would not be ideal.

"We'll find a way. We will have to put our heads together to find a way. I am not poor, we can find the money but it is not a very comfortable feeling to pump [money] in every month more and more to get the club to where we want it to be. We have to get the best players, we have to buy more experienced players. All this is costly."

Lady Sasima revealed that the Thai consortium would still have a stake in the club and own the Royal Elm Park project.

"We are going to have 25%. We are going to help them, which we'll love to do. The estate [Royal Elm Park] is ours, so we are going to develop it the way we dream about and the way we proposed.

"We know property. It is different in football, it's just a matter of winning the game. We are familiar with business like that [property] and we are quite comfortable that we can bleed it to the best we can. But Andrew, we are not promising that we are not going to sell part of our business or our land if we have the permit because we have to raise a lot of capital in a neighbourhood of about £350 million."

Asked if she had enjoyed being the owner of Reading, Sasima replied:

"Oh I have. I'm too old for this sort of excitement you know! Every time we have a game my heart is not normal! It's a really, really excitable event every single time. Like last time when we lost 7-1, oh my god I was so unhappy for the rest of the day. But when we win I am so happy. All this up and down, up and down, I'm too old for it. I am going to be 80 years old in October so it's a bit too much for me."

The full interview can be heard here, starting at around the 2 hour 13 minute mark.