Dear Dai Yongge,
I write because the football club you own is experiencing one of the most, if not the most turbulent periods of its 152-year existence and neither yourself nor Dayong Pang have spoken directly about this. An existence some feel is now at threat because your silence offers no immediate indication of your future in it.
The last time you both issued a statement was February 2022 and I’m sure you’d agree quite a lot has happened since. So much, I see it as a slap in the face you believe Reading fans don’t deserve your time. Mark Bowen’s remit is football, yours is keeping the club’s business affairs in order - the ultimate reason last week’s statements were needed.
This isn’t a total condemnation of your premiership. I will offer constructive solutions as to how we move forward. But having supported my local football team far longer than you’ve owned it, I believe my views deserve your attention and I doubt I’m alone in what I’ll impart here.
In the last 10 days Reading FC have been docked points by the EFL, gained one point from a possible six, dropped into the relegation zone and appointed its eighth manager of your reign. As five games remain, RFC looks set to endure its biggest depression for 30 years. Yet Bowen had the temerity to tell us last week we shouldn’t criticise you due to your financial input. I beg to differ. How can these circumstances, or the advent of worse ones not merit your voice in how we move forward? It’s your name above the door!
Few can argue recent events aren’t interlinked. It’s only human nature that exterior factors will impact performances. In my view, you’ve used RFC employees as shields to front up your mistakes. Paul Ince included, even if he didn’t help himself at times. Silence from you has to end. Perceived incompetence and profligacy mixed with contempt will only end badly.
Let’s not kid ourselves, we know football’s about results, but our positioning as a result of EFL rules is down to your mismanagement of England’s fifth-oldest football club. It’s not Andy Yiadom, Joe Lumley, Tom Holmes or Yakou Meite who have overseen the club lose circa £150m since 2017, yet it was they, along with Bowen, who were sent out to regenerate fan morale towards attaining safety from relegation in the wake of last week’s deduction. We know where the fault lays. It’s yours.
Noel Hunt now takes up what talkSPORT have dubbed a “poisoned chalice” managing this club. I’ve not heard a major media outlet refer to the Reading job as that before. I’m sure many would concur that’s indicative of how things have evolved since 2017. Naturally we’re all backing Noel to succeed but we have to prepare ourselves he might not.
Reading FC was once a highly respected outfit with a reputation of being shrewd and plucky on and off the pitch. Points deductions and large debts happened elsewhere. So too did regular managerial changes, yet here we are. The decisions which led us here happened on your watch.
You can blame others including former CEOs but they acted as your representative with your blessing. For pride alone, you and/or Dayong Pang need to address this. We know this isn’t how you want to run the club. At the very least a huge amount of authenticity and trust can be gained here. Bridges need building and silence will only burn more.
Pundits are beginning to suggest your time owning RFC would be best over. This stigma is only going to make your jobs harder, especially if you leave it unchallenged. How do you expect Bowen to attract talent here against an impression the club is feckless?
The SCL is at its lowest ebb of 25 years. We need a united front and positive vibes to inspire Championship survival. In my view, you are the missing piece in this Mr Dai. Imagine the impetus a message from you backing our new manager, the players and the fans could generate. Don’t look this gift horse in the mouth. I really believe the harm in not trying here could be irreparable.
Given all the above, there are big fears if we’re relegated that you will abandon this club. Reassurances and sounds of positive changes to aforementioned issues could transform RFC’s worst hours into one of its most unifying.
Your ambition, mixed with a desire for privacy, reminds me of Roman Abramovich. Despite his controversial exit, there’s no doubting his success while owning Chelsea. It’s safe to say however that it’s not panned out that way for you in RG2. Despite my criticism I’m willing to let you carry on in this Abramovich-like fashion if you make a few tweaks.
Similarly you’re clearly happy to spend money to further Reading FC, which we welcome. Evidently though, it needs to be spent wisely going forward. Unlike Abramovich however, we are where we are because you haven’t been ruthless in your ability to hire and fire people. The talent hired is also questionable - on and off the pitch.
Mistakes happen, but up to now you have hired poor managers and kept them in post too long. I’d wager none will work in the Championship again and I believe it’s because they were under-qualified to be given the Reading job to start with. The worst thing here is that this felt obvious from day one. Whoever is advising you has poor judgement to say the least. Who’s really benefitted in the hiring of some personnel over recent years? Not RFC. Look at where we are: how many have lost the job due to the threat of relegation?
Expressions of desire to help from former RFC figures is a clear invitation to get a second opinion and grow your knowledge base. The more opinions the better your decision-making, and likewise RFC’s fortunes will improve.
Similar to Chelsea under Roman, nobody will care if Reading win promotion having had multiple managers that season. Your quick hiring and firing will be vindicated if we succeed. The quicker you act, the less scrutiny you face. It’s clear Ince’s time was up, but his dismissal may prove too late. Simple.
All of this is simple, you just need to act sooner.
I’ll wrap up now, and in truth I’m not confident this will be acknowledged let alone responded to. I’m ready for that.
I’m ready for life in League One again too. Never will so much have likely been spent in football to reverse so many years of progress before you arrived. Quite the feat.
I know changes were made last summer as Bowen returned and our embargo has prevented us seeing it in action. I just hope this isn’t window-dressing. This is the perfect time to hit the reset button before it gets worse. That includes reaching out to us Loyal Royals. As I said, it doesn’t have to be frequent.
But if we still don’t hear from either you or Dayong Pang and RFC lurches to yet more crises and we see more of the same, despite last summer’s changes it’s simple: #DaiOut.
Reading FC in administration seems inevitable the way we’re going, under what has come across at times as a cowardly, arrogant and incompetent regime. I hope this can change.
There’s more to life than football and when the fun stops, it’s time we consider things. Reading Football Club used to be fun and you’ve been extracting that joy long enough. The time is coming whereby you either bring the fun back or you just go.
The choice is yours Dai.