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Reading FC: Points deductions and tennis balls

The last week at Reading FC has been nothing short of eventful. In the last seven days, Reading have not only won three points but also been deducted three points.

On Wednesday 13th September, Reading were deducted three points from their league tally this season due to failing to reach a previous agreement with the EFL. This agreement was for owner Dai Yongge to place 125% of the club’s monthly wage bill into a designated account by the deadline of Tuesday 12th September.

The terms were put in place last month following a one-point deduction for three instances of late payment of player wages. A further three would have been deducted should the club have failed to pay players’ wages on time on any occasion before 30 June 2024 or for failure to fulfil the 125% deposit as agreed. The latter of which unfortunately came true.

Following the four points that Reading have been deducted this season, it now takes the total points deducted under Dai Yongge’s ownership to 16.

Inevitably, frustrations have grown in recent times over Dai Yongge’s ownership of Reading, so much so that a supporter group against the ownership was formed – ‘Sell Before We Dai.’ The group has been set up to ‘encourage Reading owner Dai Yongge to sell up before more damage is done to the club.’

The group's first proper protest was planned in reaction to the most recent points deduction and was to be completed at the weekend’s home fixture against Bolton Wanderers. In the 16th minute of the game, Reading supporters threw tennis balls onto the pitch, causing a halt in play and the players heading back towards the dugouts. Chants of “we want Dai Yongge out,” and “stand up if you hate Dai Yongge” followed and within seconds the whole stadium was on their feet supporting the message.

The visiting fans supported the Reading fans' efforts having been through similar ownership problems in recent years. Bolton had received multiple winding-up petitions from HMRC, a 12-point penalty and even participated in a ‘tennis ball protest’ of their own back in 2019.

Once the reported 224 tennis balls were retrieved, play restarted. Soon after the restart, Dion Charles gave the visitors the lead with a fine finish into the far corner. A lead which lasted 60 minutes, until Charlie Savage found the bottom corner from 25 yards. Four minutes from time the Royals turned the game around, Caylan Vickers tapped in Amadou Mbengue’s driven cross to score his first professional goal.

In a week that could have ended miserably for Reading, a positive light began to shine through. Nothing proved this more than the players and coaching staff being serenaded with support and applause from all four corners after the final whistle.

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