Dear Mr Dai Yongge and Mr Dayong Pang,
Firstly, thank you for your open letter to all Reading supporters published yesterday (10 February). We have been asking for more direct communication from senior figures at the football club and I hope this is the start of more regular, open dialogue between yourselves and the fanbase going forward. It is no use being silent in the situation we find ourselves in; we need to hear from you consistently.
I would also like to thank you for the work that went on in the January transfer window with regards to reducing the club’s wage bill. As fans, we appreciate the circumstances the club finds itself in and the rules it must follow in accordance with the EFL. Getting three of the squad’s highest earners off the wage bill (albeit two of them initially only temporarily) shows us that work is actively being done in this regard and that mistakes are being learned from.
However, there remains a significant way to go in terms of both the above points - fan communication and financial management - and I hope you appreciate that too. It is in this aspect that I, as well as many other supporters, found your letter disappointing.
I hope the letter was not only published as a way to appease supporters ahead of the planned protest before Saturday’s game against Coventry City. As you point out, fans will always have their voice heard. A couple of hundred words and the offer of a £1,000 cheque will not silence years of growing frustrations and concern.
And this is the crux of the issue. Saturday’s supporter protest will not be fan negativity, it will be fan concern. We are not protesting just for the sake of it, nor does the protest mean we are not supportive of the team in the battle against relegation. We are protesting because we are all deeply worried about the way the club is apparently being run off the pitch and the trend of results on it.
You are right to point out that this football club has 150 years of history. But the reason why supporters are concerned is that we worry all of that is at risk of being destroyed. We want a future of 150 years and more, but that is becoming more difficult to see. We have seen what happened to Bury and Macclesfield Town and what is currently happening at Derby County. We do not want our club to go the same way.
We do not need to be told to support our team. We were supporting Reading loud and proud long before you came to the club and we hope to be supporting our team loud and proud long after you have gone. Because this is the thing with being a supporter. We’ll never stop getting behind the team, regardless of where they play or what division they’re in. That’s something we can’t help.
We sold out the recent away trip to Queens Park Rangers, we nearly sold out away at Bristol City and there are over 20,000 fans expected inside the Select Car Leasing Stadium for this weekend’s game against Coventry. Our support has never been in question.
If you really do appreciate fan concern, frustration, pain and anger, then you would act on the issues we continue to raise. Most notably, the managerial situation. Supporters see no future for this club in the Championship with Veljko Paunovic in charge.
We appreciate there are many factors at play, but the fact remains that the club’s current run of seven successive defeats is the worst for nearly 24 years. Mr Dai, if you really do watch every game then you must understand that Veljko has taken this team as far as he can. Your stated aim is to survive relegation this season. For that to happen, the manager must go.
We also want a clearer outline of what the next steps for the club are off the pitch. Thank you for letting us know that you will be better and this summer will be used to “reset” and “refocus”. But what truly matters is how this is going to happen. We have faced an uncertain future for months and you have done nothing to alleviate that uncertainty. This needs to be about transparency and assuring fans that there is a structure for moving forward.
What is the plan for the 13 senior players out of contract? What will the transfer strategy look like with the wage bill needing to decrease further? Is there a blueprint for the next managerial appointment? Will you ever fully and truthfully address the extent of the influence of Kia Joorabchian at the football club? Will any football-wise people be appointed at boardroom level?
Actions speak louder than words. That is what Saturday’s protest will aim to show. Then it will be down to you to show you understand that too. Show us that the club is moving forward. Show us that you are continuing to learn. Show us that there is a future for the football club that does not contain points deductions, behind-the-scenes mystery and relegation battles.
A concerned supporter