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Reading: The key questions surrounding the supporter protests

Fans invaded the pitch against Port Vale on Saturday.

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Reading’s Sky Bet League One match with Port Vale was abandoned after home fans invaded the pitch to protest against owner Dai Yongge.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at some of the key questions following the events of Saturday afternoon.

What happened?

Reading fans invade the pitch against Port Vale
Reading fans invade the pitch against Port Vale (Adam Rutter/PA)

With 16 minutes on the clock, approximately 1,000 Reading supporters entered the field at the Select Car Leasing Stadium. The match was halted, with around 40 people still refusing to leave the pitch some 68 minutes later. Fans stood in the centre circle surrounded by stewards before the announcement to call the game off was made at 4.25pm. Supporters chanted anti-Yongge slogans and unveiled a banner in the centre circle which read ‘Football has an ownership problem’.

Why did it happen?

Many Reading fans want Yongge to sell up. There has been an increasing amount of of fear and concern among supporters about the club’s direction under his stewardship. Sell Before We Dai, a fan group calling for a change of ownership, released a statement on Saturday evening entitled: ‘Desperate situation, desperate fans, desperate measures’. In the 242-word statement, members said they were “scared for the future” of the club and that “the threat could not be more real”.

What was the background to the protest?

Reading manager Ruben Selles
Reading manager Ruben Selles (Bradley Collyer/PA).

Reading have had three points deductions – totalling 16 points – for various financial breaches in the past three years. Last season, a six-point deduction caused the Royals to be relegated from the Championship. This season, they have lost four points, punishment which has left them in the relegation zone. They have also been placed under transfer embargoes, while manager Ruben Selles has reportedly been unaware of transfer discussions for some of his players. Other, less disruptive, fan protests have previously been staged.

Who is Dai Yongge?

Reading fans are protesting at the ownership of the club
Reading fans are protesting at the ownership of the club (Luke Adams/PA)

The Chinese businessman and his sister Dai Xiu Li became the majority shareholders of Reading in May 2017. The takeover was announced shortly after the Royals booked their place in the Championship play-off final, which they lost on penalties to Huddersfield. The 55-year-old Yongge was previously involved with Chinese club Beijing Renhe and Belgian side KSV Roeselare, both of which were dissolved. In 2016, he launched a failed bid to buy Hull. The English Football League was recently unsuccessful in a proposal to have Yongge disqualified from all football activity for 12 months following a financial misconduct charge.

What happens next?

Sell Before We Dai warned Saturday’s events were the start of an “elevated protest action”. The group plan to pressure the EFL in a bid to resolve the situation and may do so in collaboration with fans of other clubs which have experienced ownership issues. Further spontaneous match-day protests from fans are also a possibility. The EFL plans to “discuss the implications” of Saturday’s events with both clubs, with Reading likely to be sanctioned. Yongge placed the club up for sale in October and many Royals fans will hope a takeover is imminent.

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