On the 13th of January 2024, the match between Reading F.C. and Port Vale at the Select Car Leasing stadium (formerly Madejski stadium) had to be abandoned after home fans refused to leave the pitch in protest against the owner, Dai Yongge.

The League One match had been abandoned when approximately 1,000 fans invaded the pitch in the 16th minute of the game, in protest against the current owner of Reading, Dai Yongge. The invasion followed tennis ball throwing during the 3rd minute, which has happened at previous games. The 16th minute represents 16 points deducted since he took over the club.

Ross Joyce, the referee, took the players off while many visiting Vale fans applauded their counterparts. Despite a number of fans beginning to leave the pitch to help restart the game, many stayed till the floodlights were switched off and a final warning prompted but after that still a handful maintained their protest till the game was eventually abandoned.

A club statement once the invasion began read: "We are fully aware of and understand our supporters' frustrations, but we must reiterate to our supporters that entering or throwing items onto the pitch can put the fixture at risk of abandonment and can result in personal consequences including banning orders. Thank you for your support today."

Who is Dai Yongge?

Dai Yongge is a Chinese businessman, who in 2019 was worth an estimated £656 million (according to Forbes Estimate). He took over the club before the club’s Championship play-off final in 2017, with his sister, Dai Xiuli (who was previously co-owning the team).  

The pair bought KSV Roeselare, a 99-year-old Belgian club, in 2016. The team played at the highest level for 5 years (2005/6 - 2009/10), but after being bought by the pair they were relegated to the third level before going bankrupt in 2020.  

They also owned Beijing Renhe (bought as Shaanxi Baorong in 2012), which tumbled from the Chinese Super League to the third tier before being dissolved in 2021.

These two clubs are enough proof of what Yongge is trying to do to Reading and, understandably, the supporters have had enough.

Since 2017, Reading F.C has faced:

 -       Regulation to the third tier for the first time in 22 years and currently sits 21st (relegation zone)

-       A total of 16 points deducted

-       A 5-year transfer embargo, which “prevents clubs from strengthening their teams or adding to their existing costs until they have met their financial obligations, or rectify the breach of EFL regulations that saw them placed under an embargo in the first place.”

-       Missed multiple HMRC payments

-       £83 million in debt, which had led to extreme cost-cutting, including redundancies, no hotels before an away game, microwaved pre-match meals

-       Selling the most valuable assets behind the manager and DoF

-       Not a single interview with the public

Reading boss, Ruben Selles, has warned that the club may have to play the rest of the season behind closed doors: “The implications are a points deduction, it can be that we play with an empty stadium for one, two games or even the rest of the season. And financial punishment of course”