Setting up a campaign to get your owner to sell up always has to be a last resort. We are a group that doesn’t want to exist, we are a group that exists because we are worried our football club might cease to exist. Unfortunately, this is what it has come to.
STAR have tried to be constructive and the wider fanbase has been extremely patient during the past six years. But enough is enough.
Dai Yongge has overspent, failed to build bridges with supporters, driven fans away, appointed the wrong managers and played a big part in the men’s team’s relegation to League One and women’s team’s fall to the Championship.
Not only that, but we have previously failed to pay players, staff and our tax bills on time too. That is extremely dangerous.
Our failure to pay creditors on time has meant we continued to operate under an embargo up until recently, which has hampered our ability to get deals over the line. As of Monday 17th, the manager has said we were still unable to spend money on transfers, which suggests that a soft embargo may remain upon us.
This is our most important summer in years and quite frankly, Mr Dai has disrupted it and put us in danger of enduring yet another unsuccessful window.
He has made far too many mistakes during his time at the helm – and the club’s future was put at risk by our failure to pay bills on time.
This is a key reason why the Sell Before We Dai campaign was set up.
Those running SBWD are a coalition of supporters from five fan groups: Club 1871, Elm Park Royals, Proud Royals, STAR and The Tilehurst End.
We have already done plenty. Support from political figures has been gained, national media have taken interest, flyers have been handed out, letters to potential investors have been written, we have engaged with the local council and we have created and sold merchandise.
These things have already had an impact and there will be more to come. We are here to stay. Our stance will not change. Mr Dai must sell the club.
But we have to be adaptable in other aspects. Although this could be a long-lasting campaign, we are also wary of the short-term dangers. The club could easily fail to pay wages on time again in the next few months and find itself in a heap of trouble.
Different forms of protest will be appropriate for different situations – and this is one reason why organising matchday protests will be the hardest thing SBWD potentially has to do.
Staying within the confines of the law and keeping people safe will be among our highest priorities – and we also need to ensure we are arranging protests that a decent number of supporters are happy to get behind and actually add value to our cause.
We’re just ordinary fans, the same as everyone else. Whilst those leading the campaign make up a very small group of supporters, it’s important that we use this to help fans get their voices heard, including those who don’t always agree with our methods.
Please send your ideas to us via our email (email@example.com) and social media platforms, we’re always happy to listen!
One more thing has to be made clear. We are 100% backing the team. We wish the players, Ruben Selles and the rest of the coaching staff the best of luck. And we are also on the side of the club’s employees, who in the past haven’t been paid on time and in full on more than one occasion.
That’s not good enough – and it’s a reason why we have set up SBWD to try and get Mr Dai and CEO Dayong Pang to move on and hand the club over to others who are capable of taking us forward.
Some will say “be careful what you wish for”, but I don’t wish for my club to be facing winding up petitions and days in court. It’s not normal.
It’s time for us to drive up standards and we may only be able to do that by pushing for a change of ownership.
Every fan who gets behind the SBWD message will strengthen our voice. Without you, we won’t be able to succeed.
Off the pitch, let’s hope control of our club can be transferred from Mr Dai into a safer pair of hands. On it, let’s pray we can enjoy a respectable season. We all want to win, but seeing more entertaining displays will be just as important.
Football is our escape from life, after all, and that’s why we shouldn’t be forced to worry about the future of our club. With this in mind, a change in ownership is clearly required and SBWD are here to push for it.
For more information about the campaign, please visit: www.sellbeforewedai.co.uk.