News and Views

Match Abandoned After Fan Protest

13 January 2024
By Hob Nob Anyone?

Today was a very sad day for Reading Football Club. Thousands of fans arrived at the Select Car Leasing Stadium expecting to see their team continue their battle to remain in League One and enjoy the current run of good form in the league. It was an afternoon which ended in disappointment and anger and frustration for many.

Only sixteen minutes of football was played. In that time play was held up twice to clear a furry of tennis balls hurled on to the pitch from the South Stand. Vale had the ball in the net from a free kick whipped in from the left after six minutes. Having looked away immediately to observe the reaction of the celebrating Vale fans and record the details of the 'goal' and tennis ball protest I had not observed the re-start of play. I was somewhat surprised later to find out the 'goal' had been disallowed!

In the brief spell before play was suspended, we were treated to what ultimately turned out to be an irrelevant appalling refereeing decision when Knibbs was tripped from behind when clean through on goal. A free kick and red card would certainly have been the correct decision, but referee Joyce allowed play to continue. Reading created a couple of good openings, but the game did not really get going before the planned pitch invasion brought the afternoons entertainment to a premature end.

I understand why the fans organised a protest, but only time will tell if their actions are to be beneficial to the club and everyone associated with the club in the long run. Having attended most home matches as a season ticket holder for thirty years the current situation leaves with very mixed feelings.

I am torn between the anger I feel at an owner who has nothing but contempt for Reading fans in failing to even communicate his intentions (or give reasons for his part in the decline of the club), and sorrow at seeing of all the hard work achievements efforts of those associated with the club over many years undermined.

With fans threatening a repeat of today's protest at the next home game I find myself not even knowing if I should embark on my usual 120 mile round trip in two weeks' time to spend the afternoon watching a hundred or so fans preventing the match from being played by occupying the centre circle.

I have tremendous respect for Ruben Selles after the professional and positive way in which he conducted his post-match interview. It was the only glimmer of hope I could take from a grim afternoon, but it is an appalling state of affairs when he is the only employee at the club who can make public statements probably for fear is losing their job should they provide honest and open questions. It's all very well for Tim Dellor to take the moral high ground criticising people lkke Mark Bowen for not coming forward and revealing all to the media. His job at Radio Berks is secure whatever happens on the pitch or behind the scenes.

I do wonder if any consideration has been given to the impact on the players of today's events. Having trained hard and begun to turn their season around to overcome a points deduction imposed on them through no fault of their own, the action of their own fans today will almost certainly result losing the points they have played so well to gain. It must be demoralising to say the least.
John Wells

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