Dear Mr. Dai Yongge,
As we believe you are aware, Supporters’ Trust At Reading (STAR) is the independent, officially recognised body that represents the interests of Reading FC supporters to the Club, the media and the local community.
We are writing on behalf of our members and the wider Reading FC fanbase regarding our beloved football club.
Firstly, we are dismayed that we have succumbed to relegation and the circumstances over multiple seasons that have led to this outcome.
While we welcomed the letter from Head of Football Operations Mark Bowen – it remains the best piece of communication that we have seen from a representative of our football club for well over ten years – his ability to succeed depends strongly on your support and commitment.
We know and respect that you are a private individual and understand that you are not one for speaking publicly. However, the six years of your ownership have been a turbulent era for us, and we feel that as the owner at this time of the biggest rebuild of the last ten years, we feel that we deserve to hear from you directly. To hear that your ambition, passion and appetite for our club has not diminished. That you remain strongly committed. That your vision and strategy for the future of Reading Football Club is aligned to that which Mr Bowen has publicly shared.
You have our gratitude for the positive investments you have made, such as the high quality facilities at Bearwood, Category 1 Academy level funding despite the recent drop to Category 2, and our women’s team. However, during your ownership we have also seen our club punished for financial mismanagement and unsustainable spending relative to our revenue. We want to hear publicly how you intend to lead us into the next stage of the club’s evolution.
Are the days of gambling on promotion and facing possible restrictions over? Are you going to be patient in delivering Mr Bowen’s vision and ensure that we have learned lessons from the mistakes of the past? That we will not again allow ourselves to enter into a position where we risk serious consequences for the club’s future through sanctions and penalties?
Under your leadership, you have appointed several managers. In more than one instance, despite the manager’s position becoming untenable, delays in taking the decision to change course have been costly. Removing Paul Ince with only 5 games to go left it far too late for us to be able to retain our Championship status.
Additionally, we have also witnessed declines in our league position, a loss of spirit and vitality and a growing disconnect between the club and its supporters which has been evidenced by declining numbers of fans attending matches. The last five games were galvanising and this summer is the time to harness and build on that. Create a new spirit, start turning the club back into an organisation our fans can be proud of.
This does not only go for the men’s team, this applies equally to the women’s team. While we have not been subject to sanctions, we have seen a team that financially is becoming less competitive over the last few seasons and is getting more exposed to the risk of relegation. What are your plans for them going forward?
Supporters’ Trust At Reading aims to foster a positive and constructive relationship between you and the fans. We want to work with you and your staff to ensure that Reading FC is a successful and well run club. We want to see a clear plan and direction for the club, and your voice is missing right now. Visible, credible leadership helps – as seen this season at Wrexham, Ipswich, Bolton and elsewhere. We expect to see sound financial management and good governance. We want to see a club that values its history and heritage, respects its local fanbase, engages with its local community and strives for excellence on and off the pitch.
We want to see the fanbase grow. We have a potential catchment area that would be the envy of most teams, with no major clubs to the East up to London, South to the coast, West to Bristol and North towards Birmingham. We are the local club for a large population of the UK, as well as a growing overseas contingent. If we can bring that successful spirit back, become the club we have potential to be, the future will be a great deal brighter than the past decade.
We urge you to address the fanbase, ideally through video and a written article with your words, your voice, your commitment and your delivery leading to actions. We understand, and respect, that the majority of the time you prefer to speak through your representatives, but right now we are at a critical point in our existence. Please give our fans the leadership we deserve.
Supporters’ Trust At Reading