Reading FC are giving fans the chance to travel for free to the 15 furthest away games this season, after a pledge by club owner Dai Yongge on Wednesday. All fans have to do is join STAR, which is a tenner for adults, and - obviously - buy a match ticket.
According to the club, this will save up to £350 in coach fares for the eager away supporter travelling to all of the following destinations: Barnsley, Birmingham, Blackburn, Derby County, Huddersfield, Hull City, Leeds United, Middlesbrough, Nottingham Forest, Preston, Sheffield Wednesday, Stoke City, Swansea City, West Bromwich Albion and Wigan.
This is a genuinely incredible gesture that is, as far as we’re aware, unprecedented across the football league in recent memory. Reading have dropped in the occasional free coach travel before, most notably for our FA Cup quarter-final trip to Manchester City in 2011, but never on this scale.
Why have they done this? Aside from it being a very welcome reward to long suffering fans, this sort of expenditure is still in Dai’s gift despite Financial Fair Play. This is likely a payment from an individual (Dai) to an organisation (STAR) separate from the club. Therefore, and you could see this as a substitute to spending on players, he can still put his cash to good use - albeit in more creative ways.