Reading fans have been crying out for some direct communication from the club’s owners for quite some time and, today, they’ve finally got it. In a statement addressed to the supporters, co-owner Xiu Li Dai thanked the supporters for their backing, but primarily provided an update on the search for a new CEO.
The appointment of a Chief Executive is an extremely important one for any business. Football is certainly no different. So my brother and I know how crucial this next appointment is for Reading Football Club and therefore appreciate how important it is that we establish the right person who is the right fit for the role going forward.
It is vital that the process is thorough and given the due diligence it deserves to ensure we make the best possible decision.
Rest assured, we are working extremely hard to bring in the ideal candidate, but expect it to take time. In the interim period, Vice Chairman Nigel Howe and I will manage the day-to-day running of the club.
And we are confident we can lead and implicitly trust an experienced and long-serving senior management team and their staff to operate this club to the high standards our supporters have come to expect and certainly deserve. These people know the club inside out and, with your support, will steer the ship in the right direction.
Reading Football Club is a club of great honour, held in the highest esteem by so many - and its history is long and rich. As owners, we are extremely proud to be part of this family.
Last but not least, we would like to thank you. Supporting your team is not always easy. But your loyal backing is not taken for granted. It is very much valued by all at Reading Football Club.
Ms Xiu Li Dai.
There’s plenty to unpack here
First up, the statement is notably lacking in many specifics - it’s a pretty generic ‘we need a CEO, we’ll make sure it’s a better appointment than the last one, thanks for your support’. There’s nothing on the long-term strategy for moving Reading FC forward for example, although that’s more likely to come after a new CEO comes in.
That being said, it’s confirmed that Xiu Li Dai and Nigel Howe will manage the running of the club “in the interim period” while looking for Ron Gourlay’s long-term replacement, a process that will “take time”. None of that is particularly revealing info, but does clarify a few points to allay a few concerns that fans may have.
There are a few other things though: when this letter was written, and who by.
With regards to the former, we’ve been waiting a long time for this kind of communication. Reading fans have been becoming increasingly frustrated and disillusioned, and would have loved to hear from the owners during last season’s relegation battle for instance. But it’s better late than never.
From what I understand Ms Dai has been at the Mad Stad all week to conduct meetings with club staff. Good to see and hear an active interest from the owners on the current situation. Howe is a safe option and will hopefully help reconnect club with fans #readingfc— Jonathan Low (@jonathanl50) November 30, 2018
As for the latter, it’s clear that Dai Xiu Li is the one increasingly taking charge at the Madejski Stadium. That was already evident from her coming to Reading more and more in recent months, but the statement being attributed to her - and only her - reinforces that. Plus, she only makes one reference to her brother (if you’re being particularly picky, she doesn’t even name him).
Add in the fact that Brian Tevreden has been back in Reading recently and things get that bit more interesting. Despite leaving his role at the Mad Stad a few months ago, Xiu Li Dai kept hold of him, moving him to CEO of KSV Roeselare - a club she herself owns (ie not part-owns with her brother). Could he be on his way back to Berkshire?