Crisis club Reading take drastic cost-cutting exercise as problems worsen on a daily basis according to staff and former employees.
Reading’s financial issues have seen their staff having to change up their training plans to avoid paying for undersoil heating, keeping in mind of costs.
The League One side have put in place drastic cost-cutting measures, which includes a total of 19 redundancies, but also owe around £4million to its suppliers.
The word “firefighting” has been used to describe just how serious the off-field problems have become at Reading.
Lots of detail in this grim picture at Reading painted by @benfisherj:
19 redundancies, £4m owed to suppliers. Upstairs heating at training base not working, data deals frozen, desperate measures to ‘save pennies’ https://t.co/GIR7iZ8MT1
— James Dart (@James_Dart) January 18, 2024
The EFL have put more pressure on the club’s owner Dai Yongge to either fund or sell up, saying that he has displayed a “clear disregard” for his duties.
The Guardian have since reported that the Royals manager Ruben Selles and his first team squad are being told to minimise the amount of time they train on a practice pitch with undersoil heating this week after the under-21s team played on it on Monday.
Training schedules are being adjusted, with players made to increase use of the gym instead as part of measures to save on the cost of undersoil heating, which is put on prior to their sessions and then turned back off again straight after.
The team are also made to play on other surfaces, or have to wait it out until it’s thawed out, but with temperatures struggling to get above the minus mark, it’s made it tougher to prepare for games.
Reading say payments for the undersoil heating are automatically taken when it’s being used, and that they have only been able to use it when it is vitally essential, the situation made tougher due to the financial troubles.
It’s reported that there are times recently where staff at the training base had to keen warm by wearing coats and jackets whilst inside the building with the heating no longer working.
An unresolved maintenance problem is being blamed, while staff reckon this is another method of keeping the costs as low as they can.
Reading have unfortunately had to depart with 19 members of staff, majority of which coming from the academy, while the likes of assistant manager Andrew Sparkes, as well as head of player development Eddie Niedzwiecki have also gone. More first team staff job roles are also at risk, while suppliers have grown restless and look to be stepping away.
The club no longer have use of the data company StatsPerform, after they had frozen their account with the League One side, while players and staff at the training ground have seen catering firm Levy pulling out, though they do for at least the time being continue to operate at the stadium. Medical staff are having to step in help them get the nutrients they require.
What’s just as worrying is that Wolves Women had no choice to cancel Sunday’s Birmingham Challenge Cup semi-final clash with West Brom, due to suspected food poisoning from the previous game, which was against and at Reading.
Wolves have spoken of how 14 players and four coaching staff fell ill, haven’t been able to train after their 2-1 FA Cup fourth-round win at Reading, with the latter’s staff also affected.
Reading & Wolves’ women’s teams have been hit by a sickness bug caused by suspected food poisoning at last Sunday’s #WomensFACup 4th-Rd tie at Aldershot. It means Sunday’s B’ham Challenge Cup 1/2-final between rivals Wolves & WBA is off #FAWNL #BarclaysWChttps://t.co/zvwmvHnFsz
— Tom Garry (@TomJGarry) January 18, 2024
Wolves academy manager for operations Laura Nicholls said: “Unfortunately, following the FA Cup victory at Reading on Sunday, a high percentage of our squad have fallen ill which we’ve aligned to the post-match food they received, because it’s also affected Reading.
“14 of the playing staff and four of our coaching staff have been affected. We’ve not been able to train this week or complete any preparation.
“We spoke with the County FA to get some support to cancel the game because we need to put the health of the players first.
“We’re all really disappointed. Sunday was a fantastic victory for us and we wanted to take that momentum into another high-profile game – a Black Country derby in the semi-final of the Challenge Cup which we want to retain.
“We won the competition last year and it’s something we’re keen to progress and do well in.
“Originally we had 10 or 11 who reported they were ill on Monday and Tuesday. Then we have had four or five more since then across the players and staff. And I know Reading are in a similar situation. It’s taking a bit of time for some people to see the effects.
“We’ll work with West Brom to find a date that works for both of us alongside our league fixtures.”
It shows how scary the situation has become when Dai Yongge first came in at the club in 2017, spent over £250m in an attempt to get in the Premier League, and over the years things have deteriorated, falling down to League One, on the verge potentially of League Two and are literally “save pennies”, according to one insider as per the report.
In November, the EFL called for Dai to be disqualified as the owner of Reading, following a financial breach, only for an independent panel to deem that this wouldn’t help the club.
The commission felt that a £20,000 fine was a more appropriate action for failing to adhere to meet the EFL’s financial demands depositing 125% of the monthly wage bill into a holding account.
Dai Yongge was also issued with suspended £50,000 fine last week for failing to meet the demands put to him, and it doesn’t seem likely that he’ll being paying for both charges.
Reading, under a transfer embargo for the last two years for failing to pay HMRC, have also had 4 points deducted from them for the 2023/24 season but overall, had 16 points taken off them since November 2021 relating to financial breaches and late wage payments.
Chief executive, Dayong Pang, is selling both defenders Tom Holmes and Nelson Abbey behind Mark Bowen and Ruben Selles’s back, while the likes of Tyler Bindon and Charlie Savage might also be on their way.
Robbie Savage’ son, Charlie, is a key player for the club, but has only made 14 league starts as another would mean that because there would be a £2,000-a-month pay rise.
Before the January transfer window, Reading terminated the contract of Ovie Ejaria, who signed a four-year contract after arriving from Liverpool in 2020, meaning the club have saved around £200,000.
And while there is hope regarding three or four parties being interested in buying Reading, including non-disclosure agreements, it’s thought the financial crisis is putting of potential buyers.
Reading are struggling with overnight stays for away games.
“We cannot move on as a club unless we get new owners,” one staff member said as per The Guardian.
This weekend, the Football Supporters’ Association (FSA) have urged fans of clubs to show an act of solidarity for Reading supporters, to applaud on the 16th minute, which is the time when Reading fans invaded the pitch in protest towards the owner, subsequently abandoning the fixture against Port Vale
The EFL are unable to get rid of Dai Yongge, with its chairman, Rick Parry, saying: “We can’t actually force the sale, we can’t seize the shares, [because] it is company law,” Parry said. “Short of seizing the club, the [EFL’s] powers, sadly, are limited.”
Reading released a statement on Wednesday, in which they said: “The owners of Reading FC appreciate and understand the concerns of its loyal fans and partners in the community.
“They know how much the Club means to all concerned and share their desire for the Club to have a sustainable and successful future on the field.
“They however regret the actions taken at the Port Vale match and would implore fans to engage in no further disruptions to either home or away fixtures.
“Mr Dai has agreed that he will look to sell the Club at the earliest opportunity, and he has engaged lawyers to assist in the disposal.
“Nigel Howe will assist the lawyers in leading the process and coordinating the potential buyers and to provide access to information that is available.
“The EFL are fully engaged in the process, and they are being kept informed on a regular basis and are committed to supporting the Club in finding the appropriate solutions as quickly as possible.
“We ask, in conclusion, for our fans to keep faith in the Club and to know that the owners are making every effort to finalise its sale at the earliest opportunity.
“In return the owners commit to communicating substantive developments when they are able to do so.”
Another statement from the club came this weekend regarding the protests at home to Port Vale, it read: “Following the abandonment of Saturday’s match versus Port Vale, the club are in dialogue with relevant authorities, including the FA and the EFL and are yet to be informed of the appropriate course of action.
“Our small ticket office team are currently inundated with understandable questions from fans around purchases. The club would like to request patience on all enquiries whilst we wait on guidance from the above-mentioned parties. We will respond as soon as possible, however please accept a delay in our usual response timelines.
“The support for our manager and players, as always, has been outstanding, and we must continue this support as the team continue to work incredibly hard to secure results on the pitch. The Club understands the strength of feeling from our fanbase, however, it is imperative for us to remind supporters that no matter the purpose – it is illegal to throw missiles onto the pitch or enter the field of play.
“Saturday’s disruption, whilst peaceful, has already caused various internal club issues, not least significant damage to the pitch and a negative personal impact on various club personnel. We recognise the objectives of the protest were not to cause harm in these areas – however the collateral effect of such actions must be recognised.
“Therefore, we plead with our fans to keep any future protests legal and safe to avoid further sanctions and/or damage to the club, its staff and its fanbase.
“The club acknowledges the statement from the EFL regarding Mr Dai. We again confirm that Mr Dai is committed to selling Reading Football Club and discussions with various parties are continuing.”
This is what fans are saying with crisis club Reading having to take drastic cost-cutting exercise as problems worsen…
@beckytrotman: Would suggest the distress caused to staff is more likely down to not knowing from one month to the next if they’ll be paid or have access to funds to do their jobs properly. Don’t blame fans for Dai’s failings to do right by HIS employees #SellBeforeWeDai
@Simps100: “a negative personal impact on various club personnel” please expand? I’m sure not being paid on time / in full / being made redundant has a bigger personal impact on club personnel than fans protesting trying to save “our club” as you so often like to call it.
@Readingfan106: Your statement is a joke right? – “has already caused various internal club issues, not least significant damage to the pitch and a negative personal impact on various club personnel.” – I think Mr Dai did more to the personnel than we did.
@rmace1986: Club that doesn’t always pay its wages on time is blaming the fans protest for impacting the morale of their staff 🤣 Couldn’t make it up
@BenjaminGrocott: Ran out of things to blame the fans for so they’ve scraped the bottom of the barrel and said they’ve fucked the pitch. It looked no different before the game than it did after. If you’d have got promoted and invaded it you wouldn’t have said this at all
@m1871e: Statement of nothingness. Go away. Come back when you’ve got a statement about the club being sold.
@RyHamilton94: Where’s your statement to say that Dai Yongge “has already caused various internal club issues, not least significant damage to the pitch and a negative personal impact on various club personnel.”
@RFCmartire: This is a disgrace of a statement, the pitch is in a poor state because we can’t afford to carry out the necessary maintenance. Dai has done more damage to our club and its employees than the fan base could ever do. Sell our Club and leave us alone.
@alexxmitchy: “significant damage to the pitch and a negative personal impact on various club personnel” – I beg you explain this comment because the pitch was already fucked and the second part makes zero sense
@ChrisH1871: The only internal upset would be for hardworking groundstaff, yet they probably worry about their bills being paid at home when the club doesn’t pay them. Yes it is an offence to throw stuff on or enter the pitch, but you’ve got this wrong
@Emerson1988: What about the ‘negative personal impact’ this on-going, worsening situation is probably having on a number of fans mental health and well-being?…If that statement suggests employees are in hot water over the protest, then whoever is enforcing that needs a reality check.
@MikeMac1977: So the #readingfc Fans are to blame for the issues at the club???? Rather than protesting inside the ground maybe the fans should no longer purchase tickets and boycott games until further notice. Unfortunately this would have more of a negative impact on the staff