Reading owner in talks over club, stadium sale

Featured image credit: Steve Daniels/CC BY-SA 2.0/Edited for size

Reading has announced that its owner, Dai Yongge, is in “exclusive negotiations” with an unnamed buyer for the English League One football club after committing to a letter of intent.

Both parties are now trying to agree terms, which is expected to take up to two months according to the club. The sale will include Dai’s shareholding in the club, its Select Car Leasing Stadium, and Bearwood Park training ground.

Chinese businessman Dai has served as Reading’s majority owner since 2017, with his time at the club marred by continuous protests from supporters. Reading sits six points above the League One relegation zone and has had six points deducted this season for breaches of financial regulations while Dai tries to sell the club.

One of the interested parties – Genevra Associates – is no longer in negotiations, according to the BBC, due to not being willing to lend money to the club prior to English Football League (EFL) approval. The money is thought to have covered the shortfall that was present in the club’s March financial accounts, which was around £1m ($1.2m/€1.1m).

Fan-led protest group Sell Before We Dai has expressed its content, but also wariness, at the latest development.

“Naturally we are delighted to see movement on the sale of the club, but as always with communications involving Mr Dai, this statement provides as many questions as answers,” a statement from the group read.

“The most obvious elephant in the room is that the exclusivity partner has not been named. We respect that a deal as complicated as this one requires discretion, but when Mr Dai’s entire stewardship has been characterised by secrecy and shadowy behaviour, we reserve the right to be uneasy at this lack of transparency.”

Last week, a potential sale of Bearwood Park was put on hold due to “planning limitations”. Fellow League One club Wycombe Wanderers said it would purchase the site from Reading, but this was blocked as planning restrictions limit the use of the facility to Reading.