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Owner Dai Yongge to sell Reading training ground to Wycombe

Reading’s spiralling position under owner Dai Yongge has been well-documented. Since the Chinese businessman took over in May 2017, the club has fallen into League One having been deducted points multiple times for financial irregularities.

Things are worse than ever this season, with two further deductions totalling six points leaving the club hanging dangerously above the relegation zone.

Fans have been loud in voicing their anger, particularly in January when a match against Port Vale had to be abandoned after Reading supporters stormed the pitch in protest.

But now, even more alarming news has come out of the club – Dai will be selling the club’s training ground to Wycombe Wanderers.

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A billboard outside Reading Station in February 2024. Photo by Icon Sport

Dai Yongge to sell Reading training ground

Bearwood Park, the club’s training ground, was only opened less than five years ago. The £50 million, state-of-the-art facility was a source of hope for Reading back in 2019, as it felt symbolic of the club’s ambition to return to the Premier League.

In 2024, that ambition has subsided long ago. Wycombe Wanderers are only four places above Reading, but it now looks likely they will be Reading’s landlord – if the club continues to use the facility.

Reading already rent their stadium, with Dai having sold it to a company he himself controls in 2019. 

How have potential investors reacted? 

According to The Athletic, the news has made the prospect of Dai finding someone to buy the club even more remote. With another asset lost, Reading is an even less attractive proposition for any potential investor.

Former Charlton Athletic director Leo Rifkind had expressed an interest in a takeover. His company Chiron Sports Group owns a stake in Italian side Venezia. However, he has reportedly walked away from the Reading deal having heard news of the training ground sale.

Fans will protest the decision

Supporters are understandably furious and plan to protest the decision. A statement from fan-led protest group Sell Before We Dai read: “The news that Reading FC owner Dai Yongge, his sister and fellow owner Dai Xiu Li, and CEO Dayong Pang, are selling our training ground shows that they never intended to sell the club.”

“They’re intent on only one thing – killing Reading FC – a club with a proud 152-year history. The club is now firmly on life support.”

“Selling one of Reading’s key assets make the club even less attractive to a new owner – and almost certainly scares off potential investors who were already having to contend with Yongge’s unpredictability, all while leaving more chaos for fans, players and staff to endure.”

“Questions must be asked… to Rick Parry and the EFL – who said ‘never again’ after Bury’s demise, but are walking by on the other side while our club is dying in front of them.”

Sell Before We Dai also came out in criticism of Wycombe for being complicit in the deal. “Wycombe Wanderers owner Rob Couhig is an accomplice,” they wrote. “He might not have pulled the trigger, but he’s helping the owners to hide the body.”

The group detailed plans of the protest, writing “It’s time for action. We’re calling on all Reading fans to gather tomorrow night (Friday) at 6pm outside Adams Park for a peaceful protest – and we’d invite all Wycombe fans who don’t want their club to become known as the new MK Dons to stand with us – because football has an ownership problem.”

How have fans reacted to Sell Before We Dai’s protest plans?

While some have come out in support of the protest, many Reading fans were critical of the idea – particularly the fact that it would take place at Wycombe stadium Adams Park.

X user @SuburbanBadger wrote: “Think this is a mistake. Getting angry at Wycombe Wanderers is not the play here. Their owner is responsible to that club & if they’ve been offered a state of the art training ground at half the price, they’d be doing a disservice to their own club, its staff & fans to reject it.”

@clifty04 agreed, commenting: “How about you find out the facts first before arranging a protest outside another team’s ground?”

Others were concerned that staging a protest relatively far away from where most Reading fans live would mean a poor turnout.

@Slinxx said: “Afraid this ain’t ‘the one’ – like everyone else has said, it’s a bad time, not many will be there. Needs to be local and easy for Reading based media to attend and promote and where lots more fans can access. Not everyone can get to Wycombe let alone on a Friday night.”

@mitchrfc1 wrote: “Surely you do it at Bearwood. More accessible for most, would increase the attendance definitely.”

Some fans were also worried that the timing of the protest would mean limited impact. @naithanxbasra said: “All behind a protest but 6pm on a Friday evening when everyone has left is going to achieve nothing. Understand fans are powerless at the moment but surely there is something else?”

This story looks set to continue, and the Football Ground Guide will keep you updated with any major developments.

Jamie Barton

A freelance football writer and podcaster, Jamie has appeared on/in the BBC World Service, PA Media, Charlton Athletic FC and Empire of the Kop, among others. He's attended matches all around the world, from Tranmere to Tokyo, and once had his bus home from the 2022 Champions League final in Paris delayed by 28 hours.

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