EXCLUSIVE: Reading send redundancy letters to staff
Written by Simon Austin — December 21, 2023
READING have sent redundancy letters to between 17 and 20 staff this week, with more than a third of them working in the Academy, TGG understands.Earlier this week, owner Dai Yongge was fined £20,000 by an independent disciplinary commission for failing to deposit the necessary wages at the League One club.
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In September, he was charged with misconduct by the Football League after not banking enough money to cover 125% of the forecast monthly wage bill.
Now, in the week before Christmas, between 17 and 20 staff have been sent letters notifying them that their jobs are at risk of redundancy. If they cannot be redeployed, or if there are no offers of voluntary redundancy, then enforced redundancies will take place, TGG understands.
Seven of the under-threat jobs are in the Academy, predominantly in coaching and player support roles. This will inevitably raise concerns about whether the club can retain Category One Academy status, which they regained in the summer.
The Royals were demoted to Category Two in 2022 for the first time after issues were identified about a lack of staff, while facilities were not open following the move to Bearwood Park during the Covid pandemic.
When the Professional Game Academy Audit Company (PGAAC) returned early this year, they discovered a dramatically improved situation, with more staff and fully-functioning facilities.
Although Reading's Category One licence is for three years, there will be a review at the end of this season, meaning they could potentially be demoted. The benefits of being Category One are an enhanced games programme (you play the best Academies in England and potentially Europe), more money from the Premier League (they match your expenditure on the Academy), ability to recruit from further afield and kudos.
The Academy has long been the jewel in the crown for the Berkshire club. When the Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP) was introduced in 2012, auditors judged Reading's Academy to be one of the best in the country.
The Premier League's annual award for outstanding contribution to youth development is named in honour of Reading's former Academy Manager Eamonn Dolan, who died from cancer in 2016 at the age of 48.
In the latest edition of TGG's Academy Productivity Rankings, for 2021/22, Reading placed 13th, ahead of a host of Premier League clubs. Recent Academy graduates include Michael Olise, who is now starring for Crystal Palace in the Premier League.