Tom McIntyre has become the latest defender to leave Reading in some capacity this month, following Tom Holmes, Nesta Guinness-Walker and Nelson Abbey. He’s departed on a permanent basis, joining fellow League One side Portsmouth for a small fee - reported as just £75,000 by the Reading Chronicle.
There’s a lot to unpack with this transfer - both financially and on the pitch - but I wanted to start with a focus more on the man himself. While McIntyre never really hit his full potential at Reading, at least not consistently, he’s a true Reading fan who never lacked commitment and gave us some special memories.
That photo at the top of this article is a snapshot from one of the most remarkable moments in Reading’s recent history: McIntyre striking a 94th-minute equaliser against Swansea City to all but secure the Royals’ Championship status (for a year anyway). He’d done similar a matter of days earlier, sending the away end into sheer ecstasy by prodding home a late winner against Sheffield United.
That goal was rather enjoyable pic.twitter.com/Oj1q9zKm0B— Simeon Pickup (@SimFromBucks) April 15, 2022
They’re the kind of moments you live for as a football fan. Being there in person gave me some of my best experiences, some of my sweetest highs, that I’ve had in my years following this club. Seeing them acted out in front of you by a lifelong Loyal Royal makes it even better.
Even without those goals though, you could never doubt McIntyre’s love for the club. His commitment. His passion. Because of all that, he deserves to be remembered fondly and with respect as he heads elsewhere.
Thanks Tom, and all the best for the future.
Whatever the exact circumstances of his departure - what was offered contractually, said behind the scenes and so on - I can’t blame him for accepting a move to Portsmouth. They’re clearly in a stronger position than Reading both in the short and long term, so heading there makes sense for McIntyre both from a footballing and general career perspective.
As for Reading, they get a pretty paltry figure, reportedly just £75,000 - barely any more than the £50,000 received for Tom Ince last summer. Despite McIntyre’s injuries this season and impending expiring contract, I’d have still hoped for more (maybe £200,000-£300,000) from a player with around 100 Championship appearances and a good chunk of his career ahead of him (he’s 25).
Yes, £75,000 is better than nothing (which we’d have got in the summer) and no lump sum received is to be sniffed at in Reading’s current situation. The Royals will also reportedly get a sell-on, which will come in handy if the club’s still in existence when that clause is relevant.
Moving McIntyre on permanently also reduces the wage bill. Remember: he signed his last deal when Reading were in the Championship, at the end of a season in which the club finished seventh, so even with a relegation clause included you’d still expect him to be on a decent amount of money.
Just as important as the finances though is the effect on the pitch, which is where opinions on McIntyre will I’m sure vary significantly.
It’s fair to say we haven’t seen the best of him consistently for a while now. McIntyre was at his best in the 2020/21 season as Reading finished seventh, but suffered from an injury-hit 2021/22 and underwhelming 2022/23 (although that was true of most players) before again being ruled out for an extensive period this season. He’s only played 12 times in 2023/24 and hasn’t really been a solid first-team player since the very beginning of the campaign.
Still, I’d have backed him to play an important role in the remainder of the season, especially following the departure of first-choice centre-half Abbey. McIntyre’s a versatile player, progressive in possession and notably more experienced than a lot of his younger peers, for example Tyler Bindon, Jeriel Dorsett, Amadou Mbengue and Clinton Mola.
At the very least least, McIntyre would have been a useful option at centre-back, left-back or at the base of midfield. Hopefully though we’d have seen a really rejuvenated player in the back half of the season, much like how Holmes has looked a much more confident and assertive defender since regaining his spot in the side.