Previous STAR News

Community Support – Reading & District Sunday League

STAR is very pleased to announce a programme of support for the three cup competitions of the Reading and District Sunday League for 2017-18. The RDSL has operated for over 40 years but like many adult male leagues is seeing a decline in participation from 19 divisions in 1975 to six now. One cause of this is the increased costs of participating that have to be borne by players.

Unlike the professional game success can make the situation worse! The RDSL runs three cup competitions, The Tilehurst Charity Cup, Industrial Cup and the John Lusted Cup. The semi-finalists have to bear the additional costs of playing on a neutral ground and fees for the match officials. This takes the gloss off reaching the semi-finals for many participants. RDSL itself customarily covers the expenses of holding the finals from the entry fees charged to its clubs.

For the 2017-18 season STAR is pleased to be able to cover the expenses for the semi-finals and finals (one of which is held at the MadStad). This will allow the RDSL to lower their competition entry fees for all competing clubs and have a direct benefit to all twelve semi-finalists. STAR’s contribution approaches £1,500. “Back in the 1970s STAR’s predecessor organisation, the Supporters’ Club, had a team in the Sunday League so it’s good for us to be back supporting active participation in football, though I’m not going to be putting my boots back on” said STAR Deputy Chairman and former Sunday player Roger Titford.

Pat Hicks, on behalf of the RDSL said, “The Reading Sunday Football League are honoured and delighted to be connected with an organisation with the reputation and standing of STAR. Their support for our Cup Competitions Semi Finals and Finals will ensure the all our Clubs will benefit from their very generous sponsorship and we look forward to our partnership.” Amongst STAR’s aims as a Community Benefit Society are support for the local community and support for the sport of football. “Our involvement with RDSL complements our sponsorship of the Reading FC Deaf team’s kit and our sponsorship of Hospital Radio Reading’s match day commentaries, said new STAR Chairman Ian Maynard. “STAR seeks to support football in our community at many levels.”


The Real Early History of Reading FC

roger.pngAlmost every history of Reading FC has depended on the first account of its early years written, anonymously, in 1906. It contains numerous errors and biases uncovered by Roger Titford in his 2016 publication of ‘The Lost Years of Reading FC’.

To set the records straight we’re pleased to present an excerpt from his book.


Ron Gourlay at the Fans’ Forum

New Reading FC CEO Ron Gourlay took questions from STAR members for over an hour at the Fans’ Forum on 16th November. Among the topics covered were the development of the Bearwood training ground, the new owner’s approach, the transfer market and parachute payments and the importance of the Academy. A summary will appear in a future edition of Reading Matter.



The Southern Regional Sky / EFL Fan Forum

Three STAR representatives attended the regional Sky/EFL Fan Forum at Sky HQ in Brentford on 20 March along with about 50 representatives of other southern EFL clubs. In essence this was a 'them telling us' session with a chance for us to ask a few questions at the end.

The most interesting speaker was ex-ref Chris Foy on the recent changes to the Laws of the Game.

There are now 2 groups of professional referees, 18 referees and 27 assistant referees in Select Group 1 (mainly Premier League but not exclusively) and 18 referees in Select Group 2 (mainly Championship) with 36 assistant referees who are not full time professional.

Chris then took us through a few of the 84 Law changes that were brought in this season:

- Denial of a goal scoring opportunity – outside the penalty area this is a red card but in the penalty area, if there is a clear attempt to play the ball, it is only a yellow card (and a penalty of course).

- Offside in your own half – if a player is in an offside position in the opponents half but crosses the half way line before he plays the ball, then the offside offence is where he plays the ball so it can be in his own half and that is where the free kick is taken (as we know from the game this season where many of us got irate at the repeated free kicks for offside in our own half).

- Fouls off the field of play – this is penalised with a direct free kick on the line nearest to where the foul took place.  So if the foul was over the bye-line within the penalty box it is a direct free kick inside the penalty area – a penalty.

- Injured players needing to leave the field of play – if the offender is carded and the injury is treated quickly then the injured player does not need to leave the field of play.

- Handball – there are 4 factors to consider:
The proximity and speed of the ball
The movement of the hand – is it towards or away from the ball?
The expected position of the hand
Does the player try to make himself bigger?

- Holding in the penalty area – physical contact is an acceptable part of the game so the factors to consider are:
Is the player only focusing on his opponent and paying no attention to the ball?
Is the shirt being pulled and is it being pulled back?
Is the holding sustained and preventing the opponent moving?

- Participant behaviour – this covers such as dissent, being visibly disrespectful, responding aggressively, confronting the official face to face and running towards the official to contest the decision.

- Offensive behaviour – using insulting language to an official is a red card

- Physical contact – non-aggressive but intrusive manner is a yellow card and aggressive manner is a red card.

- Surrounding officials – if 2 or more players surround a player it should be a yellow card for at least one of the players.  The FA will also sanction teams retrospectively.

- Technical area – the code of conduct is more rigorously enforced.  The 4th official is required to retain professional detachment from the players and the club.

During the presentation there was footage of actual incidents and these just reinforced how hard it is to see all that is happening and make the correct decision. 

In a conversation following the presentation ex-player and Sky pundit Scott Minto made the point that players make mistakes just as referees make mistakes but the decision is made to the best of the referee’s ability and honestly.  Another question was on the role of assistant referees who appear to just follow the referee’s signals – but apparently now they are all miked up so the assistant may well have informed the referee before raising his flag so it is not always what it seems to the crowd.

All in all an interesting and informing presentation that we hope we will be able to bring to STAR members in the future. Chris Foy said he would happily consider attending a STAR Fans Forum.

Fixture disruption caused by TV

The other speakers were from the EFL and Sky and the main issue here was the fixture disruption caused by the televising of fixtures. A total of 253 PL and EFL matches are televised, none at 3pm on Saturdays or against European fixtures. The EFL fixtures are fitted in after the PL matches are chosen and the authorities feel they are doing well to offer a minimum five weeks’ notice period of changes. They are continuing to work with rail authorities and hotel groups to try to lessen the financial impact of date changes on travelling fans.

However the five weeks rule is not a total guarantee and can be breached as a consequence of rearranged cup ties. Such a breach recently saw Newcastle travel to Brentford on a Monday night and they were unapologetic about the choice of a match between two clubs so far apart. It was also interesting to note that when push comes to shove Sky can legally insist on a match being televised against the resistance of the club as Leeds found out recently. In short there seems to be almost no flexibility to take into account the wishes of the clubs or the difficulties of the fans, nor any desire to create more flexibility or lower the number of games covered. Indeed most club owners want to be covered more often! Sky's deal is worth £90m pa to the EFL and they did suggest something of a sense of entitlement on the evening. Without knowing anything of the finances they might actually be doing the EFL a big favour, of course. They did not ask for our views on the quality and nature of their coverage. Paula Martin / Roger Titford.

STAR Secures ACV Listing For The Madejski Stadium

On 13th April STAR were informed that Reading Borough Council had granted our nomination to have the Madejski Stadium listed as an Asset of Community Value. This means that should the owners ever wish to sell it STAR has the right to be informed about this and to make or be part of a bid to purchase it. STAR believes there is no present danger whatsoever of such a sale happening.

Supporters Trusts and other bodies at other clubs have been granted ACVs, notably at Old Trafford, Anfield and St James’ Park (Newcastle). In Reading some of our finer pubs and King’s Meadow Pool are also listed as ACVs.

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