Living within our means
RON GOURLAY isn’t a popular man in the Reading fanbase, at least if social media is to be believed. With the Royals struggling in the league, mounting criticism has been levelled at the club’s chief executive, probably fairly given the team’s alarming drop in form during his time in Berkshire.
Since Gourlay took over from Nigel Howe in July 2017, Reading have gone from playoff finalists to relegation candidates in the second half of last season. What’s more, an underwhelming summer transfer window not only gave supporters little enthusiasm for this campaign, but it also appears to have done little to improve the team’s fortunes on the pitch.
Nonetheless, speaking to the media recently, Gourlay was right to highlight the club’s need to live within its means.
“We’ve got to work like every other football club in the league,” he said. “There are rules there and we’ve got to work between that.”
In the last few months, four free agents have been recruited and another two loan deals agreed, with only two players bought for a transfer fee.
That’s quite the contrast with the summer of 2017, Reading’s most free-spending transfer window in their history. Then, Leandro Bacuna, Vito Mannone and Sone Aluko all joined for fees higher than £2million – investments which arguably haven’t been repaid by performances.
As Gourlay emphasised, Reading needed a more frugal approach this year in order to stay within the Financial Fair Play regulations.
Money worries at Birmingham City and Bolton Wanderers – which at the time of writing could result in points deductions – show just how important it is for clubs in the Championship to live within their means.
Considering just how close Reading came to administration in the summer of 2014, it’s reassuring to know the power-that-be at the club now appreciate the importance of managing the accounts properly.
Simeon can be found on Twitter @SimFromBucks and his website’s account is @TheTilehurstEnd.
Head over to wokingham.today to hear the latest episode of The Tilehurst End Weekend Preview with The Wokingham Paper’s Tom Crocker and Simeon’s colleague Olly Allen, discussing all things Royals.