News and Views
Misery Or Joy Waits For Royals At Wembley
25 May 2017
By Hob Nob Anyone?
The whole season comes down to one massive game on Monday, when the Royals head to Wembley Stadium for a 3pm kick-off to face Huddersfield Town in the Championship play-off final. It'll be misery for one half of the stadium and huge joy for the other half. The winning side will head off to the Premier League next season, and earn multiple millions of pounds in the process, while the losers will face another season in the Championship. A defeat will be very hard to take after getting within touching distance of the big time. The play-offs are exciting and cruel in equal measures. But surely after five defeats in the play-offs, three of which came in play-off finals, Reading are due that elusive joy at Wembley this time?
One thing is for certain, whoever comes out top between Reading and Huddersfield Town, they will become a surprise addition to the Premier League. Both sides started the season unfancied after failing to impress last season. Both teams rose high in the table but were still written off. After securing play-off positions they found themselves as outsiders with no-one paying much attention to either side until they upset the bookies and made their way into the play-off final. Reading secured a place in the final, thanks to a Kermorgant penalty, with a dramatic 1-0 home win over Fulham in the second leg. Huddersfield needed a penalty shoot out to edge past Sheffield Wednesday.
The winner of this fixture will be immediately installed as favourites for the drop next season - but will get such a big boost in income next season it will all be worth while. It is a massive opportunity which both sides will be desperate to take. It couldn't be any more 50/50, with neither side a clear favourite. It was Reading that finished higher in the table - two places above Huddersfield - and it was also Reading that knocked out overall favourites Fulham, so it still seems strange that Huddersfield are slight favourites with the bookies. Take a look at CrownBet's EFL odds where you can get a great price on Reading emerging victorious. Of course, it could be time for a judas bet to ease the possible pain on Monday night.
Both teams have been allocated approaching 40,000 tickets each for Monday's final after going back to the FA to request more tickets. Huddersfield are set to entirely sell out their allocation despite the inflated ticket prices. The Royals appear to still have tickets on sale having failed to shift all their availability so far. After tickets initially went on sale to season ticket holders and members with points only, they have now been released on general sale where anyone can now snap up a pair of tickets. As was said before day one of ticket sales - anyone that wants tickets will be able to get them without difficulties. Reading fans have until tomorrow (Friday) at 3pm to buy through SEE tickets, and the game could yet be a sell out.
It feels like it has been a long time since Reading fans spilled onto the Madjski Stadium pitch to celebrate victory over Fulham. Reading fans will be hoping it has been long enough for Jordan Obita to make a recovery from the injury he picked up in the first leg. The Royals owe at lot to Obita whose amazing performance in the first leg, including the vital goal in the 1-1 draw, set-up Reading nicely for the second leg. There has been some good news with Obita re-starting training today and Jaap Stam confirming that he may be fit for Monday. So Obita remains a maybe. Meanwhile McShane is a definately not as he remains suspended following his straight red card for a high tackle in the match at Craven Cottage. All the players that earned our place at Wembley last Tuesday will be available for selection - and Gareth McCleary will be back to full strength after returning from injury with an appearance off the substitutes bench during that game.
Reading's Previous Play-Off Final Appearances
|30 May 2011||Championship Play-Off Final||Swansea City (Wembley)||L: 2-4||Read report...|
|27 May 2001||Division Two Play-Off Final||Walsall (Millenium Stadium)||L: 2-3||Read report...|
|29 May 1995||Division One Play-Off Final||Bolton Wanderers (Wembley)||L: 3-4||Read report...|
Recent Meetings With Huddersfield Town
|21 February 2017||Championship||Huddersfield (Away)||L: 0-1||Read report...|
|24 September 2016||Championship||Huddersfield (HOME)||W: 1-0||Read report...|
|08 March 2016||Championship||Huddersfield (Away)||L: 1-3||Read report...|
|19 January 2016||FA Cup||Huddersfield (HOME)||W: 5-2||Read report...|
|09 January 2016||FA Cup||Huddersfield (Away)||D: 2-2||Read report...|
|03 November 2015||Championship||Huddersfield (HOME)||D: 2-2||Read report...|
|24 February 2015||Championship||Huddersfield (Away)||L: 0-3||Read report...|
|03 January 2015||FA Cup||Huddersfield (Away)||W: 1-0||Read report...|
|19 August 2014||Championship||Huddersfield (HOME)||L: 1-2||Read report...|
|29 March 2014||Championship||Huddersfield (HOME)||D: 1-1||Read report...|
|14 December 2013||Championship||Huddersfield (Away)||W: 1-0||Read report...|
Second Leg Victory: Things We Learned
17 May 2017
By Alex Bower
On Tuesday evening, Jaap Stam's Reading side proved everyone wrong by securing a place in the play-off final. Ultimately the game was settled by a Yann Kermorgant penalty and some resolute defending from the home side.
Here is what we learned from the game:
Que Sera Sera...
After the last two seasons, no one expected Reading to be anywhere near the promotion places come the end of the season. The Royals continue to be written off but time and time again have shown what they are capable of.
Fulham were the clear favourites going into the play-off semi-finals, with commentary making it sound like there was only ever going to be one winner (and it wasn't going to be Reading).
Instead two strong performances from the Royals mean that they have booked their place at Wembley. Yep that's right. We're going to Wembley!
Will Williams Stay?
The contract discussions with Danny Williams have been a talking point for a while now, but his performances in recent times have meant that it has become all the more important.
Williams has been a standout performer in the play-offs, with many seeing him as a vital player for the squad going forwards. Last night the club announced the new owners are now in place and the team have a great opportunity to make it into the Premier League. Could this mean a new contract is on the horizon?
Takes A Team
One thing that was abundantly clear on Tuesday evening was the team spirit that exists in the Reading squad.
Usually this season, there are a couple of players that standout in a game. The play-offs, however, seem to have brought out the best in the players all over the pitch.
Tiago Ilori hasn't played much this season, but slotted into the defence in place of Paul McShane perfectly. Lewis Grabban has had his critics but demonstrated the threat he could be when played up front. George Evans near single-handedly prevented Tom Cairney from making his usual impact on the game. The list goes on.
What the performance of the team, and these players in particular, showed was the strength in depth this Reading squad has and the belief they have in each other. Outside commentators may like to remark about the lack of quality in the Reading squad, but this season just shows what you can achieve when you all pull together.
What Happened To John Swift?
One player who is a concern, however, is John Swift. While all the other players seem to be stepping up at this crucial time, Swift seems to be going backwards.
Perhaps we have unrealistic expectations of him based on his performances earlier in the season - He is still young after all. That said, everyone knows what he is capable of and his standards have dropped significantly in recent times.
Poor touches, the frequency he lost the ball and the shot fired straight at the goalkeeper from point blank range epitomized Swift's performance on Tuesday evening. Based on his recent performances, I for one would seriously consider playing Williams, Kelly and Evans in the centre of midfield in the final.
Finally An Atmosphere!
One thing you can be certain of is that Reading fans will turn out in mass for big games. Tuesday evening's fixture was the definition of a big game and low and behold the fans came out to support.
There were flags, there was fire but most importantly there was plenty of cheering from the home fans. The atmosphere was unlike anything I had ever witnessed at the Madejski, especially just before kick-off and the closing moments of the game.
Now the aim will be to replicate it all again, this time at Wembley!
Play Off Final Tickets Go On Sale At 9am
17 May 2017
By Hob Nob Anyone?
Tickets for Reading's visit to Wembley Stadium for the Championship play-off final go on sale at 9am tomorrow morning (Thursday 18 May). The Royals will face either Sheffield Wednesday or Huddersfield, who play their second leg this evening, in the final on Monday 29 May. The Royals have a huge allocation of 38,342 tickets - which means that every Reading fan should have no problem getting a ticket.
Ticket sales open tomorrow for all season tickets holders for this season and next season. Season ticket holders will be able to purchase two tickets against their account. Members with over 750 points will also be able to purchase a ticket each.
On Friday morning remaining tickets go on sale to all member card holders with over 25 points who will be able to buy two tickets each. Those with over 50 points can buy four tickets each and season ticket holders who have already purchased tickets will be able to buy more for friends and family.
Tickets are priced in five categories ranging from £36 to £98. With big allocations of tickets for any existing supporters and such a large allocation of tickets available there really should be no problems getting a ticket even if you can't on the Thursday.
Blocks 105 to 108 are allocated at the family area and blocks 109 to 114 are the suggested singing blocks.
Club Sneak Out Takeover Completion News
17 May 2017
By Hob Nob Anyone?
The club picked the night of Reading's epic play-off semi-final victory over Fulham to sneak out news that the Chinese takeover had finally been approved by the Football League and had completed. The news was released at the most bizarre time possible, during the game itself, and was of course completely overshadowed by Yann Kermorgant's penalty sending the Royals to Wembley on 29 May 2017. It is not clear why the club appear keen to keep the deal under the radar but it certainly felt as if they were trying not to draw attention to the takeover. The deal is massive news for Reading Football Club but was, as you would expect, immediately submerged by reporting on Reading's massive victory and shot at the Premier League a week Monday.
The core of the takeover detail was revealed in very few words: "Reading Football Club are delighted to confirm that Chinese brother and sister, Dai Yongge and Dai Xiu Li, have become the majority shareholders at the club. Our existing shareholders will retain a minority shareholding in the club. The club have gained EFL approval for the change in majority shareholder and our new Chinese shareholders have taken up their position at Reading Football Club. "
It is well known that the Dai's have already contributed financially to the Royals this season, lending the club money in time for the January transfer window ahead of the takeover going through. That loan appears to signal that the Chinese are happy to invest into the club.
The club statement also contained support from Nigel Howe to tell Reading fans the takeover is a good thing for the club: "Dai Yongge and Dai Xiu Li are investing in a club with undoubted potential - investment which will benefit not only the first team squad, but which will also help to improve the club's training facilities, continue to support its Category One Academy programme and actively assist in delivering plans to develop the Royal Elm Park proposal. We are very pleased to welcome them to Reading."
The Football League have also released a short statement to confirm the takeover: "The EFL can confirm that they have no objections to the change of control application made by Reading. Following a full review of the transaction, the EFL has insisted upon - and the club/new owners have agreed - to a number of additional reporting requirements including enhanced financial monitoring, so as to ensure that their performance is consistent with the application we have considered. We would like to wish the new majority shareholders Mr Yongge Dai and Miss Xui Li Dai the very best of luck in their future endeavours with the club."
If things go Reading's way on 29 May, Dai Yongge and Dai Xiu Li will find themselves in control of a Premier League club. It is will be interesting to see the level of investment either way.