So, you only saw 16 minutes of football at the SCL on Saturday. Imagine not having a Reading FC match to attend ever again. It sounds hyperbolic, but that is where the club is heading.
Hearing the jeers and chants aimed at pitch-invaders, followed by BBC Radio Berkshire callers and social media posts deriding protests, had me wondering: how much do people really know?
In the film Titanic there’s a scene where the ship’s designer (Mr Andrews) outlines how it will sink having hit the iceberg, and it perfectly encapsulates the Reading fanbase right now. Some of us are listening, trying to work out what happens next. Others, like Mr Ismay, look on, only to utter the killer line: “But this ship can’t sink!” If you think Reading can’t disappear, “I assure you she can”.
First of all, where have you been? Sell Before We Dai isn’t a Berkshire iteration of the “Green and Gold” movement at Manchester United, annoyed about being in League One. Delusional as United fans are in thinking our plights are “similar”, their passion for wanting change is valid, and I wish it was just as vociferous across our fanbase.
If you’re blindly clapping along, reminiscing about “the good old days under Sir John Madejski”, while tutting at tennis balls, then welcome to pacifism. But think about Sir John, along with his predecessors, and all they achieved for a moment. Think about the 102 years at Elm Park. People worked hard to keep ‘little old Reading’ going.
For us there has always been a Reading Football Club, but that’s only because people over generations wanted it to be something. Certainly not Thames Valley Royals, either. That’s football in its essence: the journey and hope of something you identify with succeeds and grows. Not witnessing it get stripped down and left to rot.
Yet that’s exactly what’s happening due to a mix of one man’s unprecedented behaviour and legislative impotence, and some are happy to just put up with it? To use the Titanic analogy again, it was those who yelled and hollered who made it into the lifeboats. The silent? Need I say more?
Reading have no custodian, in its strict definition. Dai Yongge doesn’t “fund the club adequately”, in the EFL’s own words. The independent tribunal last month even insinuated he’s been choosing not to pay fines - clear contempt towards authority.
This is the man whose basic obligation is to ensure employees are paid, yet it’s a monthly news story as to whether he does that. Adding this to the notion an international billionaire living on London’s most expensive street is having a cashflow problem is tripe! He’s uninterested, walked away and his absence in interactions with the club and EFL say as much. If anything, still owning Reading FC is an inconvenience to him.
If you’re not smelling the coffee yet, here’s the reality.
Pompous as Simon Jordan’s assessment of Reading may have felt on TalkSport, he’s right. Dai Yongge holds the cards and nobody can step in unless he lets them or something unprecedented happens. Waiting and hoping really isn’t an option anymore. He’s doing the absolute minimum now, but once he stops sending money, that’s it. Nobody can make him do anything and that’s what’s so scary. We’re dealing with a man beyond the pale of previous examples and standards.
Football club owners in the main will always do what’s best for themselves and then their clubs when it comes to selling. Failing that, they put them into administration and it’s over to the next regime to try to tidy up the mess and do better. But that’s if you’re dealing with anyone who understands their position within the community and has a basic level of pride.
Dai Yongge has only ever looked out for himself and, because his behaviour is so unprecedented, there are no rules or prior cases to refer to. In short, nobody can believe how low the man goes. A man who’s never apologised for our current plight.
Only Dai Yongge or likely HMRC can put the club into administration and only the former can action a sale. Ghosting rumoured suitors, it’s clear his value of Reading FC doesn’t match reality. Something he can do for as long as he wants, and his record shows he cares not an ounce for the EFL’s authority.
So here it is: our time is finite and at some point, the EFL may have no choice but to expel Reading Football Club if Dai Yongge continues to not engage. That leaves our fate in the hands of something extraordinary happening through either the EFL, the government or some other organisation.
It’s also becoming clear that Dai’s business dealings back in China could see him fall short of current owner standards if tested today. Thus, RFC serves as his potential safety net.
Doesn’t this sound like the current Post Office Horizon scandal? Just because some faceless body wants to behave in an amoral manner and abuse their position doesn’t mean we should let them get away with it. But some seem to treat Dai with the same apathy.
Saturday’s abandonment has given Reading Football Club as much exposure in the last few days as it received when it won the Championship on either occasion. Tell me: what else could’ve done that? So much so, this week the elusive Dayong Pang gave his first press interview since arriving in RG2 in 2020! All to try and defend his boss. Pang is the same man who on record told both STAR and SBWD reps one thing in December, only to do another.
People are still losing their jobs and those left are taking on the extra work, but were already overworked to begin with. Staff still don’t know if they’ll get paid on time or in full. Some have been with Reading for decades and have reached their limit.
We’re being gaslit here and, if this were your employer, you’d resign, look elsewhere and expect the company to soon fold. Those rumours have been circling for months and any decent company would put them to bed.
For a club that can’t spend money on transfers, the fee for Tom Holmes is likely going only two places: to keep the lights on at the SCL or straight into Dai Yongge’s pocket. The man who up to now wouldn’t sell players due to his pathetic overinflated self-pride. The assets are being stripped.
If none of this rancours you into now seeing why fans invaded the pitch to highlight Reading FC’s plight, then you’re lost. The clock is well and truly ticking and it feels as though the glow of the SCL’s lights don’t have long with Dai Yongge left at the switch.
Remember what it was that brought you and Reading together. Surely the memory of that alone is worth trying to keep going, so you can pass it on.
Support the team and, for crying out loud, support the removal of this regime!