Reading in crisis

This time a year ago Reading were in The Championship play-off places but by May they were relegated. The decline was the result of a terrible run of results and a six point deduction imposed on them by the EFL  for failing to keep to an agreed profit and sustainability plan.

Without the deduction they would have finished safely in twenty first place -  a point above Cardiff City.

The decline has continued this season - not helped by a further four points deducted because of a failure to deposit sufficient funds to cover wages. However, even without the deduction, they would still be in the relegation places as they are currently five points behind Carlisle. Additionally, in late September they were placed under a transfer embargo for failing to pay a tax bill. This failure heightens the danger of the club being faced with a winding up petition.

Chinese owner Dai Yongge says that he is now open to "credible offers" for the club but BBC Radio Berkshire Sports Editor Tim Dellor comments "He has pumped in hundreds of millions of pounds, so will surely be wanting to minimise his losses. No right thinking business operator will want to pay even tens of millions, let alone hundreds of millions, for the privilege of owning a club drowning in debt."  A recent club statement said: "Discussions and due diligence processes with a number of potential investors continue apace."  To a Charlton supporter there is something wearily familiar about all that.

Reading fans have staged their own protests ("Sell before we Dai") and have delayed the start of home games against Burton and Bolton by throwing tennis balls on to the pitch; we wonder where they got that idea from.

When the contracts of some of their big name players ran out this summer Reading were able to start curbing some of their previous extravagance. Liam Moore, George Puscas, Lucas Joao and Yakou Meite all left the club, providing a saving estimated to be in the region of £6.5m a year. Manager Ruben Selles had no choice but to trust in youth and Academy graduates. Nelson Abbey, Kelvin Ehibhatiomhan, Femi Azeez and Caylan Vickers have become regular first team players along with Charlie (son of Robbie) Savage who joined from Manchester United in the summer.

It is hardly surprising that results this season have been patchy.  They have lost seven of their eleven League One games including all six away from home - at Port Vale, Exeter, Cambridge, Blackpool, Northampton and Leyton Orient. In fact it is fifteen games and eleven months since their last away win in the League.  That said, we can't overlook the fact that they won 9-0 at Exeter last month in the EFL Trophy and followed that up by beating Swindon 5-0 at home.

Tennis balls on the pitch inevitably remind us of our years of dismay under Roland Duchatelet. Our current hope is that sanity is at last prevailing in SE7 and that James Rodwell's aim of "getting a little bit better every day" is starting to come to fruition. Gaining three points on Saturday and clambering into the top half of the table would provide some welcome evidence of this.