If you thought Reading were in for an uneventful Wednesday afternoon, you were wrong. Fresh off the buzz of the Royals signing Ben Elliott at 5pm on Tuesday and then picking up a first league win in six months a few hours later against Cheltenham Town, we’ve now had a points deduction and a new signing: Paul Mukairu.
In the space of a weird half an hour between 4.30pm and 5pm, first we learned that Reading had been given a deduction of one point with immediate effect for failure to pay wages on multiple occasions last season. A further penalty of three points has been suspended. The EFL said:
“The breaches related to the club having failed to pay its players’ wages on time and in full on or around 31 October 2022, 30 November 2022, and 28 April 2023.
“Reading’s 2023/24 League One points tally will be adjusted immediately whilst owner Dai Yongge has also been fined £10,000 and ordered to deposit an amount equal to 125% of the club’s forecast monthly wage bill in a designated club account, in an attempt to avoid further breaches.
“If the 125% deposit is not paid within 28 days of the Independent Disciplinary Commission’s decision or there is any further failure to pay players’ salaries up until 30 June 2024, then the suspended points sanction will be activated.”
That takes Reading’s points tally down to two. Following defeats to Peterborough United and Port Vale, three points had been picked up against Cheltenham. That didn’t even last 24 hours.
You’d suspect that, unless the Royals get fresh investment in to ease cashflow concerns, the suspended three points will also come into effect at some point. Reading simply haven’t been reliable enough recently at paying financial obligations, with multiple transfer embargoes imposed this summer alone for failure to pay HMRC. That’s set to continue for another two windows as things stand, although Reading are appealing to bring that down to just one (the upcoming January window).
“After being charged by the EFL in June, the club responded in a timely fashion – accepting the charges in principle, whilst providing evidence of the mitigating circumstances surrounding the late payments to an independent Disciplinary Commission in response to the charges.
“Our dialogue with the EFL and the Independent Disciplinary Commission has been open throughout the process and, in accepting that the repeated late payment of wages is wholly unacceptable, we believe the punishment is just.
“The wage bill has been satisfied in full and on time for the last three months and, as recently communicated to supporters, our owner will continue to seek and secure reliable sources of stable external investment which will ensure cashflow complications do not arise and result in any further breaches of EFL regulations.
The bottom line is that Reading have now had a points deduction in a third consecutive season. This really needs to stop; this club can’t and won’t move forwards until points deductions are a thing of the past, and really, that means Dai Yongge selling up - as Sell Before We Dai are rightly advocating.
Then, just before 5pm, Reading teased another signing on Twitter. Although Mukairu’s arrival wasn’t completely out of the blue, given that news of the Royals’ interest had been reported a couple of days previously, the timing of this announcement was still quite something. It certainly made for a good distraction from the points deduction...
Mukairu is a 23-year-old Nigerian winger, and he’s come in on loan for the season from FC Copenhagen. He’s a quick player, capable of playing in multiple attacking positions, and worked alongside Ruben Selles at FC Copenhagen a few years ago when Selles coached there.
Head of football operations Mark Bowen said:
“It is fantastic to welcome Paul to the club. He already knows all about the standards that Rubén demands, and Rubén knows exactly what he can offer to Reading and the role he can play in the team. He has ability, character, a desire to work and a strong will to make an impact at Reading.
“Even though he’s still young, Paul already has some brilliant experiences under his belt and he is determined to play a big role in the team’s success this season.”
Mukairu’s arrival takes Reading’s signings tally into double figures for the summer. The Royals had already brought in Harvey Knibbs, Sam Smith, Lewis Wing, Charlie Savage, Tivonge Rushesha, Harlee Dean, Tyler Bindon, David Button and Ben Elliott.
Welcome to Berkshire, Paul!