Pitch invasion, sit-in protest and tennis balls cause Reading game to be abandoned

Reading’s League One match against Port Vale was abandoned after hundreds of home fans invaded the pitch to protest against the club ownership of Dai Yongge.

The game had already been held up for three minutes early in the first half when tennis balls were thrown onto the playing surface at the Select Car Leasing Stadium.

Then, after 16 minutes, referee Ross Joyce took the players into the dressing rooms when the home fans entered the field of play, some letting off blue flares.

After approaching the Vale fans, some of whom applauded them, most of the home fans started to leave the pitch. But many of them then returned and staged a sit-in in the centre circle. Many Reading fans want the owner to sell up following a number of sanctions imposed by the EFL.

A statement posted on Reading’s X account read: “We are fully aware of and understand our supporters’ frustrations, but we must reiterate to our supporters that entering or throwing items onto the pitch can put the fixture at risk of abandonment and can result in personal consequences including banning orders.

“Thank you for your support today.”

Reading fans flooded the pitch and refused to leave (PA)
Reading fans flooded the pitch and refused to leave (PA)

As Reading fans continued to stay on the pitch, the club made two announcements over the PA system.

They stated that once the fans had returned to the stands, the game could resume.

As the supporters remained on the pitch, stewards guarded both goalmouths.

The Port Vale fans began to grow tired of the protests, chanting they had “made their point” and should leave the pitch.

A further announcement over the PA system said that, unless the pitch was cleared, the match would be abandoned.

It added that it would go “along with the consequences” of a possible points deduction.

As the game continued to be held up, reaching the half-hour mark, some Reading fans who had remained in the stands began to boo those on the pitch.

It also appeared that some of the stadium floodlights were being turned off, as if in preparation for an abandonment.

Port Vale fans also began to chant: “We want our money back”.

There remained a tight cordon of stewards around the entrance to the players’ tunnel, with the players having remained in the dressing rooms throughout.

Around 300 Reading fans remained on the pitch and at 3.56pm officials from both clubs were in contact with the EFL fixtures management team to discuss “the best course of action”. The game was eventually called off at 4.25pm.