Reading FC points penalty - how much is latest punishment and who is Dai Yongge?

The League One club has now had 18 points deducted over the past three seasons under the ownership of Dai Yongge.
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Reading FC have received a further two-point punishment for HMRC financial failures as the League One club continues to struggle under the ownership of controversial businessman Dai Yongge.

The Berkshire outfit has now been docked a total of 18 points over the last three seasons and is fighting to avoid a second successive relegation. Reading fell out of the Championship and into League One for the first time in more than 20 years in 2023, but would have stayed up if not for deductions.

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The football club confirmed the news on Tuesday afternoon with the punishment coming in with 'immediate effect'. Reading had already lost four points this campaign due to financial mismanagement but had rallied under the management of Ruben Selles.

Reading to be handed new two-point penalty

The Royals have sunk to 19th with another two-point penalty applied, just three points above the relegation zone. Reading owner Dai Yongge has been told by The EFL to either sell the financially-ridden club or prove that he plans to fund it properly.

The businessman, whose wealth comes from investment holding company Renhe Commercial Holdings Company Limited and a Chinese shopping centre empire, has already been hit with a £50,000 fine for failing to deposit money into a designated account. That penalty followed a £20,000 fine in December for a similar breach.

A statement from Reading today said: "Reading Football Club can confirm an immediate two-point penalty has been applied as a result of persistent late payments to HMRC in 2023. This follows a decision of an EFL Disciplinary Commission yesterday.

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"The club has also received a further suspended two-point penalty, which will be activated should there be any further late payments to HMRC or identified football creditors (EFL Regulations 52.6.1 to 52.6.3) this season. The points deduction will be applied to our Sky Bet League One total with immediate effect.

"Furthermore, Mr Dai has been ordered to pay a £100,000 fine payable within twenty-one days. Should this money not be received a further suspended fine of £100,000 will be activated, and an additional fine of £100,000 will be imposed if the money is not received within five weeks."

Staff at the football club have been made redundant in recent months with deals for first-team players being agreed upon without the prior approval of manager Ruben Selles or head of football operations Mark Bowen - centre-back Tom Holmes last month completed a move to Luton Town and has been loaned back until the end of the season. The Athletic has also detailed how catering has been stripped back at the training ground, hotel stays for away games scrapped and found a lack of heating for office staff.

Sell Before We Dai demand Yongge to leave club

Supporters at the club, which was in the Premier League as recently as 2013, have formed a group known as Sell Before We Dai to protest the ownership and demand the businessman to sell the club. Fans protested on the pitch against Port Vale earlier this year, causing the match to be abandoned, and have thrown tennis balls onto the turf, held up red cards and dressed up as clowns to demand change.

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The group said: "The first fan-led match abandonment in our 152-year history should not be celebrated, but the spontaneous, unfiltered passion, as well as the will and determination of our fans, should be. We understand that we will be punished by the EFL, but what we really need is help. Today was an outpouring of emotion from a fanbase not known for its hostility. We are scared for the future of our football club and the threat could not be more real. We want this to be our last abandoned match, but it is just the start of this elevated protest action.”

Reading fans have protested against owner Dai Yongge for months. (Image: Getty Images)Reading fans have protested against owner Dai Yongge for months. (Image: Getty Images)
Reading fans have protested against owner Dai Yongge for months. (Image: Getty Images)

EFL send statement to Reading owner

In a statement, the EFL said: “As Reading FC supporters are only too aware, it has in recent months become increasingly clear that Mr Dai Yongge is no longer in a position - or does not have the motivation - to support the club financially as he did following the change of control in 2017. 

“His continued failings mean that once again the club’s hardworking staff have no reassurance as to payment of wages and demonstrates a clear disregard for his obligations as a director of the club. In respect of this issue, the League will now consider all available options it has under the Regulations and will have no hesitation in bringing further charges against Mr Dai. 

“In the meantime, and for the sake of the future of Reading FC, its staff, supporters, and local community we urge Mr Dai either to fund the club adequately or to make immediate arrangements to sell his majority shareholding to appropriate new owners so everyone can move forward with renewed optimism.”

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The EFL had confirmed that there are 'interested parties' in completing a takeover of Reading. Last year, Mike Ashley's Frasers Group and Formula 1 team backer William Storey had both been linked with bids but news on those has since cooled.

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