16 days after it was announced that Ron Gourlay had stepped down as Chief Executive of Reading, his replacement has been confirmed as a familiar face - Nigel Howe.
The 60-year-old had previously held the role between 1995 and 2017, overseeing the Royals’ move to the Madejski Stadium as well as two promotions to the Premier League. He was then voted on to the EFL Board by Championship clubs, meaning he moved to the position of Vice Chairman in Berkshire. This meant that he took control of more property management matters, the industry he first started in, such as the Royal Elm Park development and new state-of-the-art training complex at Bearwood.
However, following Gourlay’s departure last month, Howe worked alongside owner Ms Dai Xiu Li on more football-related matters, and she and her brother have clearly decided that he is the best man to take on the role of CEO going forward.
They would not be wrong. In an interview with BBC Radio Berkshire earlier this week, Sir John Madejski suggested that Gourlay did not understand the club’s values and didn’t care much for the relationship with the community. Howe meanwhile will understand the ethos of Reading better than anyone, having worked within the club for over two decades, in the most successful period in our history. In contrast to Gourlay, virtually no one has a bad word to say about him. Whilst fellow ‘Reading Way’ members, such as the likes of Sir John, Nick Hammond and the late Eamonn Dolan are no longer around him, Howe seems very well placed to drag the club out of a position where disconnect with the supporters has never been higher.
On the appointment, Mr Yongge Dai told the official club website:
“As we said recently, the importance of this appointment was not to be underestimated and, as owners, we sought a CEO who would be the right fit for Reading. In Nigel Howe, the club’s direction is being entrusted to a very safe pair of hands and an individual who knows the club, its staff, the town, its reputation, its supporters and its potential better than anyone.
“He has tasted success here before and I believe he can help us to achieve more success in the future. So we are very much looking forward to working closely with Nigel and his senior management team to build a positive future for this football club.”
Meanwhile, Howe himself was proud to take the role back on:
“I am honoured that the club’s owners have asked me to retake the reins and help lead this club forward. Both on and off the pitch, challenges lie ahead. However, with our fans’ support, I am very pleased to accept this exciting opportunity to help the club better engage with our fans, better connect with our community, establish its identity and achieve its aspirations going forward.”
Is the future of Reading Football Club finally starting to turn a corner?