Liv­ing within our means

The Wokingham Paper - - SPORT - With Simeon Pickup

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 wok­ing­­day 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.

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