Reading Football Club News: June 2023

Transfer Rumours Following Tom Ince Departure

29 June 2023
By Hob Nob Anyone?

Tom Ince's move to Championship team Watford has been confirmed after Watford were able to make the most of a relegation clause in Ince's contract to trigger the move. Ince is understood to have moved in a cut price deal to leave Reading's squad depleted further. Ince was a key player last season and Reading struggled after he was ruled out in March with an injury. Despite missing the end of the season, as Reading ended up relegated to League One, Ince was named as Player of the Season.

Ince originally arrived at Reading on loan from Stoke City in Janauary 2022 and stayed with the Royals for the rest of the season before signing a permanent deal in the summer. His best form was at the start of the 2022/2023 season as Reading fans were given high hopes with Reading briefly top of the Championship table. It all went wrong after that and now Reading are without both Inces, manager and son, and face life in the second tier with an amazingly small first team squad. Tom Ince made 54 appearances for the Royals during his one and half year stay, scoring 11 goals.

Other than Ince there are plenty of transfer rumours floating around. Tom McIntyre is still expected to leave the club. For incoming transfers, there were hopes that Brentford's Fin Stevens could join on a loan deal, but he is now expected to join League One rivals Oxford United. Obviously Oxford United are now considered a better prospect for a player than Reading. Theo Walcott has gone from made-up rumour to a likely signing given he will be leaving Southampton and has links to new Reading manager Selles. Walcott got a full quota of game time at Southampton under Selles in the Premier League, so our new manager is clearly a fan of Walcott. It does open the posibility of other out-of-contract Southampton players considering dropping down a league to link up with their former manager - or is that wishful thinking? Walcott would certainly be a great asset to have for League One football.

It is also being reported that Reading could sign out of contract, former Cambridge player Harvey Knibbs. Knibbs is a forward player who was a firm regular last season for Cambridge. He joined Cambridge in the summer of 2019 from the Aston Villa youth set-up and scored 18 goals in 121 appearances over 4 seasons with Cambridge. Knibbs is still just 24 years old, so despite being released by Cambridge, would be a welcome free transfer to extend the squad.

No Wind Up - Selles Appointed Team Manager

27 June 2023
By Hob Nob Anyone?

Reading have finally confirmed the appointment of former Southampton boss Ruben Selles as new first team manager. As usual Reading fans will put their support behind the new manager, although judging by recent history he will have a very tough job to retain his position in the long-term. Selles certainly has an impressive coaching record after becoming a pro qualified coach at just 25 years old. Fifteen years later he now has a long list of coaching roles on his CV in youth and adult football. However, he will be well known for his short stint as manager of Southampton in which he oversaw relegation from the Premier League to the Championship.

After taking over as caretaker for a single match in November 2022 (a draw), he took on the role again in February this year and was named permanent manger until the end of the season. Out of his 17 games in charge he managed just 2 victories to give a win percentage of just 12 percent. Southampton finished rock bottom of the Premier League, six points adrift from 19th place and a massive 11 points away from safety as well as having the worst goal difference in the League. Managing a club at Reading's level, and with such a lack of resources, will be a new experience for Selles - one we hope he can rise to. Selles' appointment is subject to him gaining the appropriate visa to continue to work in the UK.

No Manager Confirmed As Pre-Season Gets Underway

26 June 2023
By Hob Nob Anyone?

Reading fans are being made to wait on the possible appointment of former Southampton manager Ruben Selles as the team returns for pre-season training. Selles remains favourite to take over as new first team manager, but there is no confirmed news of his appointment. It was reported last week that the deal was done and that Selles had signed a contract - but we had the exact set-up before when certain sources also claimed that Chris Wilder had agreed terms and was set to take the role. This time around Selles feels more likely to replace Paul Ince who was sacked last season, but there is no guarantee that he will be the man in charge for the new season. Selles is rumoured to have been at the club today to spectate on first team training.

The Royals also have more roles to fill, alongside first team manager and first team players, with Jared Dublin leaving the club to join Stoke City as Head of Recruitment. With the transfer window open, Tom Ince is expected to leave the club for a nominal payment due to a relegation clause in his contract, and Tom McIntryre is rumoured to be in discussions about a return to the Championship.

Meanwhile Reading's pre-season preparations begin this week with the team returning to training. With Reading's first team squad down to 12 players, initial training and the club's pre-season trip to Spain will involve both the first team and the Under 21s. After training at Bearwood the merged squad will fly out to the heat of Southern Spain for a week, which will end with a friendly against AFC Wimbledon, on Saturday 8 July, who are also in the same location for pre-season training.

The club have also announced that Reading will play Championship side Southampton in a pre-season friendly at the Select Car Leasing Stadium on Saturday 22 July, with kick-off at 3pm. The Southampton game will be followed with the visit of Swansea City the following Saturday before the new League One campaign gets underway. Reading also have an away fixture at Sutton United scheduled for Saturday 15 July.

Football League Update Embargo Reporting

23 June 2023
By Hob Nob Anyone?

The Football League have, this morning, updated their embargo reporting on Reading FC. The change sees "Non-Payment of PAYE Owed to HMRC" removed from Reading's record and replaced with "Regulation 17: HMRC Reporting". This appears to be a significant change and appears to be better news than we had before on this latest update. The failure of the club to meet League regulations for reporting tax, presumably PAYE information based on their previous update, no longer implies that we have failed to make due payments.

However, with everything considered, it is barely cause for celebration and the club will still be waiting for a possible points deduction, and will find themselves severely restricted on bringing in new players. Even if we can find out-of-contract players available for free we will still struggle with wage payments as we clearly demonstrated by being unable to pay wages last season.

Updated EFL Embargo Reporting Service (23 June 2023)

The EFL Embargo Reporting Service now has the following regulations that have not been complied with by Reading FC:

  • Breach of Profit and Sustainability Rules
  • Non-Payment of Loan Wages
  • Regulation 17: HMRC Reporting

Non-Payment Of PAYE Added To List

23 June 2023
By Hob Nob Anyone?

Although it essentially goes hand in hand with Reading's confirmed failure to pay player wages last season, the Football League have added "Non-Payment of PAYE Owed to HMRC" to the list of regulations the club have failed to comply with. It is really just further confirmation of the same crimes, but it does confirm that Reading are in trouble with the tax man as well as the Football League. The club are in huge debt and have been unable to get anywhere close to a stable financial situation.

Despite Reading's owner putting more money into the club to keep it afloat it clearly hasn't been enough to correct previous mismanagement. Reading's revenue will take a further huge hit this season in League One. Reading's wage bill will be dramatically reduced with nearly all large contracts now ended. We also have very few professional playing contracts in place. That means it should be easier to pay wages this season as they will be so small compared to previous seasons, but that is only due to the severe lack of players.

Reading must recruit playing staff to be able to field a full matchday squad, but Reading's lack of spending power means no agent is going to want to talk to us on behalf of their player. The reality is that recruitment is going to be increasingly difficult for a club already looking at a points deduction. It is hard to look past a second successive relegation this season - and that is assuming the club can continue to operate at all.

EFL Embargo Reporting Service

The EFL Embargo Reporting Service currently lists just one club - Reading FC - with the following regulations that have not been complied with:

  • Breach of Profit and Sustainability Rules
  • Non-Payment of Loan Wages
  • Non-Payment of PAYE Owed to HMRC

Millwall In League Cup: Full Fixture List Updated

22 June 2023
By Hob Nob Anyone?

Reading FC's full fixture list for the new 2023/2024 season in League One was published this morning. Since the initial fixture list came out we have had further confirmation of opposition and locations in the League Cup and the EFL Trophy.

The Royals will travel to Millwall in the first round of the League Cup with the match played at The Den on Tuesday 8 August, which will be the second fixture of the new season. Millwall narrowly missed out on the Championship play-offs last season and were 1-0 winners in Reading in March. However, back in August 2022 Reading travelled to Millwall and picked up a 1-0 victory themselves - that saw us top of the early Championship table with six games played. It's hard to comprehend that we were in that position back then compared to where we find ourselves now. But moving on to the EFL trophy - a competition reserved for the bottom two divisions in the EFL...

Reading are in a group with Exeter City, Swindon Town and Arsenal's U21 side. Our away fixture at Exeter is most likely to be played on Tuesday 5 September. The other two group games will be home fixtures for Reading and will see us face Swindon Town on Tuesday 10 October and Arsenal U21 on Tuesday 14 November. With the Royals also entering the FA Cup in the first round, it is already looking like a packed schedule of lower division football.

Reading Start Season Home Against Peterborough

22 June 2023
By Hob Nob Anyone?

Reading's fixtures for the new 2023/2024 League One campaign have been released, and the Royals will kick-off the new season at home against Peterborough on Saturday 5 August. The new fixture list really does hammer home Reading's relegation with August seeing the Royals also play Port Vale (away), Cheltenham (home), Stevenage (home) and Exeter City (away).

Boxing Day sees the return trip to Peterborough and New Years Day the Royals will play at home to Exeter City.

Reading will of course get to play Oxford United again in League football this season. Oxford visit The Select Car Leasing Stadium on Saturday 14 October. Our trip to the Kassam Stadium, which is sure to be a sell out, is on Saturday 3 February.

Reading finish the 2023/2024 season with a home match against Blackpool on Saturday 27 April. Who knows where Reading will find themselves in the League One table at that stage of the season?

Use the link below to view the full fixture list for the new season:

Swindon And Exeter In EFL Trophy

21 June 2023
By Hob Nob Anyone?

One of the perks of relegation to League One is that we get to take part in the EFL Trophy this coming season - and we have been drawn in a group with Exeter City and Swindon Town. This means the Royals will get to play a "competitive" fixture against Swindon Town for the first time since February 2002 - a 0-0 away draw in the third tier. It has not yet been arranged who will host the games, and the Royals also will have to wait to see which U21 team will join the group. This is football at a different level. However a trip to Wembley is a reward for the EFL trophy finalists, so it's all to play for. The draw means Reading will get to play both Oxford United and Swindon Town this season after Oxford narrowly avoided relegation at the end of the season.

Puscas And Meite Departures Confirmed

21 June 2023
By Hob Nob Anyone?

The club have confirmed that Yakou Meite will be leaving the club after failing to agree a new contract to keep him at Reading. It is no surprise with the club having limited budget for new contracts and the ability to only offer League One football. Meite spent seven seasons at Reading making 156 league appearances and scoring 47 goals in all competitions. Despite suffering from injury he continued to bounce back and remained a strong option coming off the bench. His final Reading game saw him score his club's only goal in a 1-1 draw with Wigan in April. Meite is a hugely popular player who will be wished very well wherever he continues his career.

Meite's departure follows the confirmation that striker George Puscas will sign a permanent contract with Genoa after spending time at the club on loan. Puscas, who was never expected to return to Reading moves to Genoa for an "undisclosed fee which will now be payable to the club in instalments". Puscas joined Reading in August 2019 but fell out of favour after only managing two goals throughout the 2021/2022 season, and went out of loan to Genoa for all of last season.

More Silence

19 June 2023
By Hob Nob Anyone?

Last week was quite a week for Reading Football Club. The club finally broke the silence with an official statement from the CEO, that appeared to match something AI might have generated, only for the next day to see the EFL issue a statement with far more bite. The Royals will certainly be punished further for financial irregularities that also include failing to pay players, but we still don't know how far future punishments will go. There will be a transfer embargo, which can't come at a worse time with the transfer window open and Reading's first team squad ridiculously thin. There could also be a substantial points deduction. Since then there has been more silence, only broken today by the club getting excited about the release of the League One fixture this week.

There have been a few mild grumblings from fans and a few calls of "Dai Out", but that could lead to further trouble, with the owner recently putting six million pounds into the club to keep it afloat. The club are in huge debt so we would need someone willing to take that on. Sure, any protest may accelerate his departure, and he is probably tired of putting his money into the club, but we might just need someone else lined up first? It would be good news if our owner sold up but what if he walks? The future of Reading Football Club hangs in the balance.

It is rumoured that the club will appeal anything handed out by the Football League, but the problem is that we probably won't have much grounds for appeal. Guilty as charged. It would be helpful it the EFL could do something more to help their members work out of these problems than simply trying to inflict a further relegation, and therefore more financial chaos.

With all the issues behind the scenes it is almost a side issue that the Royals still have no manager and Chris Wilder will not be coming to the club. Wilder was firm favourite for so long and it was alleged to be a done deal, so Reading drifted along waiting for that. And it never happened. Instead the new rumour is former Southampton manager Ruben Selles. To say that Selles failed at Southampton is an understatement after he picked up just 2 wins in 17 games on the way to getting Southampton relegated before he left the club. He is not like the man for the job.

Meanwhile, Reading will be forced to turn to young players coming up through the academy and put them straight into League One fixtures. That may be incentive to stay and get first team football, but the club can not compete when it comes to competitive contracts for professional footballers. We can only expect further departures before the new season gets underway.

More Bad News: Club And EFL Issue Statements

16 June 2023
By Hob Nob Anyone?

With discontent growing within the fan base Reading Football Club issued an update from CEO Dayong Pang yesterday. While it was good to finally get something from the top level of the club, the statement lacked any real information and would have done very little to settle any nerves. Reading between the lines it suggests that Reading have failed to secure a new manager and club owner Yongge Dai may be the one ultimately preventing an appointment. Whether it is lack of funds or something else isn't known, however the statement is an attempt by the club to buy a bit of time. Don't expect a resolution any time soon.

With rumours flying around that the club had failed to settle loan player payments for last season the EFL have stepped up with an official statement today. Yesterday the EFL confirmed that Reading had not only failed to pay loan wages but had breached profit and sustainability rules. This means another transfer embargo for the club. The squad is remarkably slimline as we head to the new season. Do not expect new signings until the loan wages dispute is settled, but we can't rule out an extended embargo or even a further points deduction. The non-payment of loan wages could also impact our ability to attract or sign loan players even without an embargo. We may well be relying on a large number of academy players to make the jump directly into the first team as pre-season gets underway.

Today's EFL statement is not good reading:

Reading Football Club has been charged with multiple breaches of EFL Regulations.

The charges relate to the Club failing to meet their obligations to pay its players' wages on time and in full on or around 31 October 2022, 30 November 2022 and 28 April 2023.

Yongge Dai, the Club's owner, has also been charged with causing the Club to be in breach of EFL Regulations despite his commitment to fund the cash requirements of the Club.

The Club and Mr Dai have until 4pm on Thursday 29 June 2023 to respond to the charges.

Yesterday's club statement felt like a very lacklustre attempt to appease fans. It talks of correcting "the mistakes that were made many years ago". However, it is becoming clear that mistakes are continuing to be made. Right now the future of the club does not feel certain as Reading continue to limp along in the wrong direction. Reading Football Club is in really big trouble.

Disarray At Reading - No Manager And Few Players

15 June 2023
By Hob Nob Anyone?

The pre-season period is officially under way with the transfer window open. Reading are left with a very thin squad following the departure of out of contract players, and the return of loan players to their parent clubs at the end of the season. The Royals are also still without a manager as the rumours of former Oxford United and Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder taking up the role remain just that - rumours. There are plenty of rumours floating around about disarray at the very highest level at the club with Reading sitting in no-mans land waiting for something to happen. The Royals are desperate for a new manager and equally desperate to bring in some players to replace those who have left.

Reading are expected to have less restrictions on transfers, but will still need to take care, and with very limited funds it is expected we will again be looking for free transfers and organise some loan players. The EFL will be keeping a very close eye on Reading after applying the suspended points deduction last season. The concern is that players that are still on the books may be out of the door in the coming months.

Naby Sarr's move to Qatar will proceed with the player having a release clause in his contract after Reading's relegation to League One. Tom Ince was one of Reading's most impressive players in an unimpressive season but is expected to leave. His relegation release clause is a mere 50,000 pounds which could see plenty of clubs interested in bringing the player back to the Championship on the cheap.

Reading have already lost Luke Southwood, Liam Moore, Scott Dann, Dejak Tetek, Lucas Joao, and Shane Long. Ovie Ejaria was told last season he could leave the club and was absent for long periods last season. It is a mystery if he will feature for the Royals next season. It has been reported that new contracts have been offered to Mbengue, Meite and Hoilett - but there is no confirmation that any of the three will be accepting what will be reduced salaries and will stay at Reading.

As well as a lack of players there is a lack of backroom staff. As well as having no first team manager in place, Head of Scouting Jared Dublin is expected to leave right at the worst time and take up a position at Stoke City. There are no guarantees Director of Football Mark Bowen will remain at the club either.

First Team Players Under Contract for 2023/2024

  • Dean Bouzanis
  • Nesta Guinness-Walker
  • Andy Yiadom
  • Tom Holmes
  • Tom McIntyre
  • Sam Hutchinson
  • Kelvin Abrefa
  • Ovie Ejaria
  • Mamadi Camara
  • Tom Ince
  • Andy Carroll
  • Femi Azeez

Naby Sarr Moves To Qatar Side

13 June 2023
By Hob Nob Anyone?

Reading's very small first team squad has just become smaller with the confirmation that central defender Naby Sarr will be joining Al-Markhiya in Qatar for the new season. Sarr will be making use of a relegation release clause in his contract to leave the club midway through his contract. Sarr had a mixed season with the Royals after arriving last summer on a free transfer from Huddersfield, including a spell out injured, but was still expected to be a key player for the new Campaign in League One.

Reading Could Fare Well Under Wilder 1.0

11 June 2023
By Hob Nob Anyone?

Chris Wilder, who recently left Watford after a short stint in charge, is the man tipped to take over as Reading manager ahead of their League One campaign. And the last time he was in the division, he got the club he supports, Sheffield United, promoted with a record 100 points. There’s a chance he can repeat the feat with Reading, but that’s if he reverts back to Wilder 1.0.

Chris Wilder, 55, is a manager who made his name by working his way up the divisions with plenty of success along the way. And when he got the job at Bramall Lane, he had the blueprint for success, one which he immediately put into action. The Sheffield United fan brought players in on frees and at low cost, managing to get the very best out of them, which led to promotion from the third tier to the Premier League in just several seasons.

It's this Wilder, not the one who has since endured difficult spells in his final season with the Blades, Middlesbrough and then Watford, who can get the Royals back to where they want to be. Bookmakers and fans alike have high hopes for Reading next year as a result. According to Entain's new sportsbook, PartySports, the industry is keen to encourage and bring to the fore more football other than the English Premier League. Entain is one of the major entities in gambling worldwide, with huge visibility through brands, including PartyCasino, which has been a force to reckon with in recent years.

Reading undoubtedly go into the new League One season as one of the favourites to gain promotion, and rightly so, even though they have lost players due to the expiry of their contracts or the end of their loan deals. But this creates spaces in the squad for the Royals and, more importantly, Wilder to do business, with the latter capable of weaving some real magic in the free, low-cost and loan markets—a chance for Wilder 1.0 to come to the fore again.

Often, a club wants to bring in a new manager to get them where they want to be. And hiring Wilder would undoubtedly be another case of this. But it's also a chance for the Sheffielder to get his managerial career back on track, and disappointments ensued following Sheffield United's first campaign back in the Premier League, where they'd finished ninth.

The Royals need Wilder, the Wilder who brought success to Sheffield United, among others, Wilder 1.0, as he needs them. And it’s this mutual need that could help both achieve what they set out to achieve. Both will be determined to enjoy a successful campaign which sees Reading back in the Championship for the 2024/25 season. Plus, you never know; if the Royals do get the deal over the line, Wilder could repeat the work he did at Bramall Lane, where it was two promotions in three years?