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Reading CEO hits back at fans over Port Vale pitch invasion

Dayong Pang, the Chief Executive of Reading Football Club, has hit back at supporters after their pitch invasion during their League One match against Port Vale resulted in the fixture being postponed.

The protest, put into motion by the ‘Sell Before We Dai' fan group, was criticised by Pang for negatively impacting the process of selling the club.

Dayong Pang criticises Reading fans for pitch invasion against Port Vale

Reading fans invade the pitch during the Sky Bet League One match at the Select Car Leasing Stadium
Reading fans storm the pitch against Port Vale to protest against owner Dai Yongge / Photo by Icon Sport

What did Dayong Pang say?

Pang is essentially Dai Yongge's right-hand man, and therefore, it should be no surprise to see the club's CEO take a negative stance on the protests.

Speaking to talkSPORT, Pang stated that he understands the frustration from the fans, but was adamant that the pitch invasion had done no good for the club, saying: “I share the frustration about the selling process.

“But the reaction has done nothing good for the club, and it has done nothing good for the selling process. The selling process is undergoing. I please ask our fans [to] be more patient. It takes time. Please be patient.”

Before later insisting that Yongge is “100 per cent willing to sell the club.”

Why did Reading fans storm the pitch against Port Vale?

In short, Reading has been the victim of gross mismanagement ever since Yongge completed his takeover of the club in 2017.

At that time, the Royals were just days away from their Championship play-off final match against Huddersfield Town. However, things have taken a drastic turn for the worse in the years that have followed their defeat in that game.

Due to the club falling short in regards to the EFL's profit and sustainability rules on multiple occasions during the Chinese millionaire's tenure, the Royals have been deducted a total of 16 points in the last two years. Within those two years, fans of Reading have watched on as their club plummeted from security in the Championship to facing relegation from League One this season.

To make matters worse, Yongge has also failed to make HMRC payments, failed to pay wages and has cut corners so excessively that there are now rumours suggesting that Reading players are having to eat microwave meals in the canteen.

What was the EFL's immediate response?

Speaking on the debacle, EFL Chairman Rick Parry was sympathetic towards the situation Reading fans find themselves in. The 68-year-old said: “We share the fans' concern. we absolutely do, we are trying to take action against Dai Yongge.

“Reading has fallen foul of our Profit and Sustainability rules and have suffered the punishments.”

Parry was also keen to make clear the EFL's desire for a resolution as quickly as possible, insisting that the organisation does not want any more clubs disappearing, saying: “We're meeting fan groups this afternoon, we want a new owner, we want a resolution to the problem, just as much as Reading [supporters].

“Don't ever believe that the EFL doesn't care – we do care – we don't want to be losing clubs, but we're not in a position where we can easily force him to divest of the club.

“We have the power to potentially disqualify the owner, but what we don't have is the power to force a sale.”

Fans of other clubs in the EFL have also shown tremendous support for the Royals, with sections of the Port Vale fanbase encouraging fans of all clubs across the country to clap and make noise in the 16th minute to show solidarity with Reading in these worrying times.

One thing we can surely all agree on is that a solution, whatever that solution may be, must be found as quickly as possible to ensure that Reading Football Club does not suffer the same fate endured by Bury just a few years ago.

EFL releases statement regarding situation at Reading

Officials from the EFL have now released a statement regarding the pitch invasion, although an overall solution at Reading appears to be no closer.

The statement explained that due to the incursion, the match between the Royals and Port Vale will be replayed in full, on February 20, after its previous abandonment. The sale of tickets for the match is at the full discretion of the two clubs.

Reading's punishment for the incident was also discussed within the statement, with the EFL outlining that the Royals will be handed a three-point suspended sentence. It will be activated if and when any Reading match played in an EFL competition is abandoned due to interruption from the club's supporters during either the 2023/24 or the 2024/25 campaign.

Finally, the last topic discussed in the statement was an update on the club's owner, Dai Yongge. The Chinese billionaire has now been charged with “misconduct for his repeated failures to deposit an amount equal to 125% of the club’s forecast monthly wage bill in a designated bank account. ”

Yongge has also been charged with bringing the club/league into disrepute, with both charges being referred to an independent commission.

Joint protest for rescheduled match

The League One match between Reading and Port Vale has been rescheduled for February 20, 2024. In a show of support, Port Vale fans will hold up red cards in the 16th minute alongside the Reading supporters to protest against the ownership of Dai Yongge.

Port Vale fans were vocal in their support for Reading's protest in the original fixture. Because of this, Reading fans have donated more than £10,000 towards the Port Vale supporters club's fundraiser for a new statue for former manager John Rudge.

Mark Porter from Port Vale Supporters Club said:  “While we’re competing against each other on the pitch, we’re happy to join with Reading FC fans in the stands to show bad football owners the red card. Football has an ownership problem – and after we had to campaign to get our club back from poor owners not enough has been done to stop that happening again. It’s time that changed.”

Harry Dowsett

Freelance football writer with experience writing for multiple digital platforms, such as GIVEMESPORT. Recently graduated from Portsmouth University with a media studies degree - completing a dissertation on the evolution of sports journalism in the process. He has a love for Arsenal Football Club and a passion for football as a whole.

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