Both the Club and I have received a number of complaints today regarding an article in the Reading Chronicle, and I personally share our supporters’ dismay.
In my opinion the nature of the article, and in particular the image manufactured for the front page, completely misrepresents the vast majority of our fans, and their experiences supporting the team both at Madejski Stadium and on the road.
The article itself is an unwarranted and sensationalised attack which undermines everything our club tries to represent. To paint a full picture, last season there was only one Reading fan arrested at Madejski Stadium, and only ten arrests out of nearly half a million home and away fans through the turnstiles, all for minor offences. Those Home Office figures speak for themselves.
I have spent more than a quarter of my life building up this football club on and off the pitch, so I personally take a series of gross misrepresentations in this edition as insults to our club’s good name. No club is perfect, but I and every member of staff work tirelessly to make Madejski Stadium a great place to bring your family and friends and I know Thames Valley Police also take great pride in our exemplary record.
When the Club was named Family Club of the Year by the Football League, it was one of the finest moments of my time here, and remains just as important to me as everything we have achieved on the pitch.
The newspaper also contains a comment relating to the Hillsborough tragedy that has deeply offended many of us in the football family.
With all that in mind, we have decided to suspend our relationship with this particular publication. We have a duty to protect the club’s reputation, and particularly to protect our supporters’ reputation. This is not a decision we take lightly because we value the freedom of the press and have enjoyed excellent relationships with our local media in the past, but we are sure our supporters will agree that we cannot allow the fans’ good name to be besmirched in this way.
So many people have spoken to me today about this article – both supporters and my colleagues here at the club – hurt and disappointed by what they had read. As custodians for Reading Football Club, the right course of action was clear to us all.
Sir John Madejski OBE, DL