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Reading agree to suspended three-point penalty over pitch invasion

Reading have agreed a suspended three-point deduction after supporters invaded the pitch during their match against Port Vale (Adam Rutter/PA)
Reading have agreed a suspended three-point deduction after supporters invaded the pitch during their match against Port Vale (Adam Rutter/PA)

Reading have agreed a suspended three-point penalty with the EFL over the pitch invasion which forced the abandonment of their League One match against Port Vale earlier this month.

Around 1,000 Royals supporters entered the pitch in the 16th minute of the match on January 13 in protest against the club’s owner Dai Yongge.

The EFL has announced that the club have now come to an agreement over the suspended points penalty, which is line with a sanction handed to Blackpool in similar circumstances in 2015.

Reading fans were protesting against owner Dai Yongge
Reading fans were protesting against owner Dai Yongge (Mark Mansfield/PA)

The match itself will be replayed in full on Tuesday, February 20, the EFL has confirmed.

In explaining the sanction, the EFL said the suspended penalty would be activated with immediate effect in either the current season or 2024-25 “if any fixture played in any EFL competition is postponed or abandoned due to disruption (including incursion onto the field of play) by the club’s supporters”.

The statement continued: “The League continues to recognise the ongoing challenges for the club and its supporter base and notes the views expressed at the supporter meeting held with the EFL last week in respect of imposing further immediate points deductions on the club.

“This approach aims to balance the requirements of the EFL as the competition organiser to uphold its regulations on behalf of all member clubs whilst providing clarity to all associated parties on the impact of any future non-fulfilment of a fixture, coming as a direct result of supporter protests.”

Reading confirmed in their statement that the club have also been asked by the Football Association for their observations of the events which led to the match being abandoned.

“The FA investigation is an ongoing matter and may result in serious implications, and possibly a very significant financial penalty for the club,” Reading’s statement said.

“The club will work collaboratively with the FA during this investigation and will communicate with our supporters once any decision is made.”

The club have been hit with points deductions previously over missed payment of player and staff wages by their owner, while Dai has also been fined personally over his failure to fund an account to ensure future payments were not missed. The EFL sought his disqualification in November but an independent commission rejected that and imposed a fine instead.

He was fined a further £50,000 on January 15 for failing to fund a deposit account set up to cover staff wage costs – meaning he has been in default for nearly four months.

EFL chairman Rick Parry insists his organisation wants a resolution to the crisis at Reading just as much as the club's fans
EFL chairman Rick Parry insists his organisation wants a resolution to the crisis at Reading just as much as the club’s fans (Mike Egerton/PA)

EFL chairman Rick Parry told MPs on the Culture, Media and Sport select committee last week that his organisation wanted a resolution just as much as Reading fans.

“Don’t ever believe that the EFL doesn’t care. We do care,” he said.

“We don’t want to be losing clubs. But we are not in a position where we can actually easily force him to divest of the club.

“It’s complex. We have the powers to potentially disqualify the owner, what we don’t have the power to do is force a sale.”