The first thing to note is the big change in who STAR will be dealing with at the club. Not only is there a new owner, Dai Yongge, who doesn’t speak in English and won’t necessarily be in the country much – but also a new Chief Executive. Ron Gourlay has taken over that role from Nigel Howe who we’ve got to know over the last 20-odd years. Previously Ron Gourlay was CEO at Chelsea and held management roles at Manchester United and Umbro so it will be interesting to see what he makes of our more limited circumstances.
Naturally we’re expecting to meet with these new key influences before too long, both informally and formally. It’s over a year since the EFL mandated its member clubs to engage in a ‘Structured Relationship’ with their supporters at a high level over matters to do with finance, strategy and club identity. That dialogue at Reading hasn’t yet started – for the more or less understandable reason that the club was effectively up for sale most of last season.
Nigel Howe will be overseeing the development work on Royal Elm Park over the next few years. How that all meshes with the club is something STAR will be keen to keep tabs on.
At the day-to-day level we feel the club is making progress on fan-related issues that we raise with them. The Twenty’s Plenty away ticket initiative continues and hopefully more than a couple of our Championship rivals will imitate it. Overall reducing our ticket prices for away fans at the Mad Stad didn’t cost the club. Pensioner bus fares will be subsidised by the club this season, we’ve seen ambitious plans to overcome the inevitable loss of the Worton Grange car park. Also, the mixed fanzone outside the East Stand has worked well and the club have listened to our plea not to mix Reward Points with Ticketing Points.
STAR will see some changes too with chairman Paul Ellix stepping down in September after five busy years at the tiller and three brand new board members joining. There are still a couple of board positions vacant so if you fancy getting involved in this new era there is scope and a role. Not everyone’s cup of tea, we know.
But with all the challenges ahead we’d like to speak for as many Reading fans as possible. The obvious route is to join STAR at the same old prices (£10 adults, £5 concessions) for the same good benefits. Please see www.star-reading.org for full details. If you like the sound of what we do but can’t quite bear to be parted from your tenner or have no use for our many benefits why not subscribe to our fortnightly email STAR Bulletin? It will keep you in touch with the basics of Reading fan-related issues. To be put on the list please email email@example.com
Enjoy the season – URZ!
Roger Titford, Deputy Chair, STAR