At the start of the month, we published our ‘State of Reading FC’ survey which asked for your views on the club at this moment in time as we begin our 151st year in existence.
Thank you to everyone who took the time to give their thoughts - here are the results...
Identity and Ambition
97.5% of fans believe that Reading’s ‘natural’ position in the football pyramid is in the Championship. That includes 68% who believe the Royals are a top half Championship club and 29.5% who believe we are a bottom half Championship club. Reading are currently the fourth-longest serving club in the second tier behind Derby County, Nottingham Forest and Birmingham City.
75.5% of fans believe that Reading have underachieved in the last five years - with Championship finishes of 3rd, 20th, 20th, 14th and 7th. Only 1.5% of supporters think that we have overachieved.
82.5% of fans believe that Reading will get relegated to League One before they win promotion to the Premier League.
44% of fans believe that Reading will be in a weaker position in two years’ time. 35% think the club will be in roughly the same position and 21% believe we will be in a stronger position.
The academy remains a shining light for Reading and 66% fans said it was the aspect of the club that they feel the most proud of. Other responses about what made supporters proud were the community ethos and the club’s history. 3% of respondents said there was nothing about the club that made them proud at this moment in time.
We asked supporters to write three words they would use to best describe the football club at this moment in time. The top five most-used words were (in order): Lost, Shambles, Mess, Directionless and Mismanaged.
Ownership and Finances
On a scale of 1 (very poor) to 5 (excellent), supporters gave Dai Yongge an average score of 2.5 when grading his performance as owner of Reading since taking over in May 2017.
Only 24% of supporters agreed that they were pleased Dai Yongge is the football club’s owner. 41.5% of fans said that they neither agreed or disagreed with this statement, indicating the current apathy towards Mr Dai.
79.5% of supporters agreed that Dai Yongge has made crucial mistakes as owner of Reading. The club have overspent during his time at the club, leading to a six-point deduction for breaching the EFL’s profitability and sustainability rules, and have failed to win promotion to the Premier League.
Mr Dai’s investment in the football club has been substantial, most significantly in the transfer market and the funding of the new state-of-the-art Bearwood training ground. With this in mind, 38.5% of fans would like to see the owner invest more money into Reading.
However, 83.5% of supporters agreed that they would like to read, watch or listen to an interview with Dai Yongge. He has not spoken to the media since taking over the club and rarely puts his name to club statements. Mr Dai has been described as a “private” individual by CEO Dayong Pang.
Crucially, 72.5% of supporters fear for the future of the football club if Dai Yongge was no longer interested in being the owner.
We asked supporters to rank individuals of where they placed the blame for Reading’s six-point deduction for breaching the EFL’s profit and sustainability rules. Ron Gourlay was chosen as the most responsible, followed by Dai Yongge, Kia Joorabchian, Nigel Howe and finally successive first team managers (as a collective). The appointment of Gourlay as CEO in July 2017 had catastrophic consequences in almost every area of the club, most notably regarding finances and recruitment.
On a scale of 1 (very poor) to 5 (excellent), supporters gave Reading’s transfer business over the last five years an average score of 2.
85% of supporters believe that Reading should hire a Director of Football. The club currently have a ‘football board’ in place that they say fulfils this role. This board is made up of CEO Dayong Pang, finance director Bryan Stabler, academy manager Michael Gilkes and first team manager Veljko Paunovic.
87.5% of supporters believe that ‘the Reading Way’ approach to transfers - the term coined for Reading’s success in the mid-2000s to describe a smart and cheap approach to recruitment - can still be successful in the modern era.
66% of supporters would like to see a more data-driven, statistical approach to transfers. This is a strategy that is growing in prominence following Brentford’s success with such a model in recent years.
80% of supporters agreed that match tickets are fairly priced at the Select Car Leasing Stadium. Reading rank eighth in the Championship this season with regards to the cheapest season tickets available.
61.5% of fans believe that there is not a good range of food and drink available at the Select Car Leasing Stadium on matchdays. In November 2020, it was confirmed that the club had not renewed the contract of Blue Collar Food, the local company who had previously managed several food stalls around the ground.
47% of fans say that they are less likely to attend a match at the Select Car Leasing Stadium now than they were five years ago. Only 15% said they were more likely to attend a game. Respondents were asked to not factor in the impact of Covid-19.
40.5% of supporters said that they were disappointed that the club is no longer producing a matchday programme. The club confirmed in August that it would not be in publication this season, citing a decline in sales and the “time, effort and expense” required to produce a programme for every home matchday.
46% of supporters said that they felt the atmosphere at the Select Car Leasing Stadium has improved in the last five years. ‘Club 1871’ was introduced towards the latter part of the 2017-18 season in an attempt to create a better atmosphere at the ground with a dedicated singing section and visual displays.