With pre-season now in full swing, Reading will be looking to avoid a third consecutive relegation battle in the second tier of English football.
The Royals face a huge challenge in doing so, however. A soft transfer embargo has been placed on the club by the EFL for breaking their Profit and Sustainability rules. This is an obstacle which could severely affect the club in their quest to attain a more respectable league position in the next campaign.
It’s clear that the Royals desperately need to bring in reinforcements for the upcoming season and this embargo could make it more difficult for Jose Gomes to sign players. However, not everything about this embargo is doom and gloom. There are benefits that could come from this move by the EFL for our club.
It’s imperative that we try and sell a number of players in this transfer window - some of whom are fringe players while still picking up a hefty wage. We would have sold players regardless of whether we were in a perilous Financial Fair Play position or not.
However, this embargo places even more emphasis on selling players who are surplus to requirements at the Madejski Stadium. The likes of David Meyler and Marc McNulty will be under more intense pressure to make a much-needed move away from Reading. This could give the players the push they need to depart the club and find first team football.
Jose Gomes is yet to make a permanent signing as manager, with all the players who are currently in Berkshire being signed by other managers or brought through the academy. The manager has shown what he can do when he brings his own players in - the loanees who were signed in January were a massive success.
By selling numerous players, this will make room for new players to come in. It’s essential that Gomes is able to bring in numerous figures for the upcoming season so he can continue to effectively implement his style of play.
The recruitment strategy will have to change (it already has under Nigel Howe) with this transfer restriction in place. Shrewder signings will be the key to whether the Royals struggle or prosper in the league next season. Under current CEO Nigel Howe, Reading are almost certain to recruit players who are better value for money than most of the current squad. Signing players for excessive fees and inflated wages has been our biggest downfall in recent years under former CEO Ron Gourlay.
Recruiting players from other clubs will not be the only factor in whether the Royals have a successful campaign next season or not. Promoting players successfully from within could also pay dividends for the club if Gomes is brave enough to put his faith in youth.
The manager has already shown he’s willing to blood youth when needed. Michael Olise and Danny Loader have both thrived under the Portuguese coach. Josh Barrett also looks like he’ll be a big part of Gomes first team plans next season and Andy Rinomhota remains an integral part of the Royals’ midfield.
Not only will taking a chance on youth give Reading a nice mix of youth and experience, but it could also help reduce the club’s wage bill further. Players who are currently blocking the pathway for younger players to come through and make an impact can be sold. Most of these players will be on considerable first-team wages. The academy players will also have played with each other before which could help form the spine of Reading’s team for years to come. It’s a win-win situation for the club.
An identity of a club is so important. You could be a mid-table Premier League side doing well in the top flight, but without a club identity, there’s a limit on how much the fans can be proud of at a football club.
Portugal Day at the Madejski Stadium against Birmingham City went a long way to repairing and rejuvenating the club identity, which has been much-needed with the club’s decline in recent years. Integrating youth players and giving them a sufficient chance could also contribute to the club’s image. Giving youth a chance has become less of a theme in modern football, with so much money being spent in the English and European transfer markets.
We were a club that punched above its weight, considering the limited finances and resources we had in our three Premier League seasons combined. Promoting promising academy players could help the club perform well above expectations once again. It seems very far away at this moment in time after a dismal couple of seasons.
Even though this optimism may be slightly puzzling to Reading fans at the moment, we certainly have the suitable CEO and owners to make a real success of the next campaign. Ron Gourlay has left a lasting effect on the Royals but with the new management in place, but I‘m cautiously optimistic going in to next season. The reasons above are why you could be too.
The hardest part will be offloading players, which could be quite a challenge. Despite this, the transfer embargo, which has been correctly implemented by the EFL in my opinion, could be a blessing in disguise for Reading Football Club.