Reading chaos: Women’s team hit by sickness bug after suspected food poisoning

Beth Merrick celebrates scoring for Wolves against Reading in the Women's FA Cup
Reading and Wolves played in the fourth round of the Women's FA Cup - Getty Images/Ben Hoskins

Reading and Wolves’ women’s teams have been hit by a sickness bug caused by suspected food poisoning at last Sunday’s Women’s FA Cup fourth-round tie between the two teams.

The sickness is so widespread that Wolves, who won the tie 2-1, have been forced to postpone their Birmingham Challenge Cup semi-final with rivals West Brom.

Women’s Championship side Reading hosted the game at Aldershot Town’s EBB Stadium rather than the Select Car Leasing Stadium and a statement from the club, who have “several” players unwell, said the food was provided by an external company who do not usually cater for their home matches.

The reason Reading had not staged last weekend’s cup tie at their usual home ground was because their men’s side had a League One fixture on Saturday. That men’s match was abandoned after 1,000 fans invaded the pitch to protest at the club’s under-fire owner Dai Yongge.

Third-tier Wolves, who pulled off the shock of the fourth round by coming from behind to win last Sunday against higher-league opposition, appear to have been impacted more significantly by the bug than Reading, with 14 players and four coaches struck down.

Wolves Women manager Dan McNamara said on X, formerly known as Twitter: “Absolutely gutted we aren’t able to compete this weekend in the semi-final. Players and Staff are slowly recovering but their health has to come first.”

Wolves’ academy manager for operations Laura Nicholls, added: “Unfortunately, a high percentage of our squad have fallen ill which we’ve aligned to the post-match food they received because it’s also affected Reading,”

“Unfortunately, we’ve not been able to train this week or complete any preparation. Some of the effects have been quite dangerous so it’s important we put the health of the players first.”

Reading were playing Women’s Super League football as recently as last season but following their relegation last term, they are now languishing in 10th in the 12-team Championship and sit just four points above the relegation zone.

Broaden your horizons with award-winning British journalism. Try The Telegraph free for 1 month, then enjoy 1 year for just $9 with our US-exclusive offer.