Reading crisis: Dai Yongge told by Football League to sell club or fund it properly

Reading fans protest against owner Dai Yongge during their League One match against Port Vale which was abandoned
Reading's match against Port Vale was abandoned after fans stormed the pitch - Reading FC/Jason Dawson

Reading owner Dai Yongge has been told by the Football League to sell the crisis-hit club or prove he can continue funding it.

Yongge is under further scrutiny after failing to deposit money into a designated account, with the EFL imposing a £50,000 fine on the Chinese businessman after a £20,000 penalty last month for a similar breach.

Reading’s game against Port Vale on Saturday was abandoned after over a thousand fans invaded the pitch and protested against the detested owner. Protest group Sell Before We Dai said that it had been “a dark day for Reading Football Club” and “we understand that we will be punished by the EFL, but what we really need is help. Today was an outpouring of emotion from a fanbase not known for its hostility. We are scared for the future of our football club and the threat could not be more real.”

The EFL has now cranked up the pressure on Yongge to find a suitable buyer for the League One club, who have been docked 16 points in a stormy two-year period. Last year the EFL demanded that Yongge be kicked out of football but an independent commission rejected it.

In a statement, the EFL said: “As Reading FC supporters are only too aware, it has in recent months become increasingly clear that Mr Dai Yongge is no longer in a position - or does not have the motivation - to support the club financially as he did following the change of control in 2017.

“His continued failings mean that once again the club’s hardworking staff have no reassurance as to payment of wages and demonstrates a clear disregard for his obligations as a director of the club.

“In respect of this issue, the League will now consider all available options it has under the Regulations and will have no hesitation in bringing further charges against Mr Dai.

“In the meantime, and for the sake of the future of Reading FC, its staff, supporters, and local community we urge Mr Dai either to fund the club adequately or to make immediate arrangements to sell his majority shareholding to appropriate new owners so everyone can move forward with renewed optimism.”

The EFL are set to discuss the pitch invasion at a board meeting later this week. In the past, authorities have taken a case-by-case approach towards pitch invasions, though they have been a criminal offence for more than 30 years. Under FA rules, clubs can face anything from a warning through to stadium closure and a potential points deduction if found guilty of failing to take adequate action.

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