Co-Chairman's thoughts on the futureChairman Sir John Madejski penned exclusive notes for matchday programme 'The Royal' this past weekend, giving his thoughts following the recent confirmation of the club's take over.
Welcome back to Madejski Stadium for this afternoon’s match, our first home fixture in a new era for Reading Football Club.
After an exceptionally difficult year, we now have new owners, which is fantastic news for all concerned. I would like to officially welcome new shareholders Khunying Sasima Srivikorn, Khun Narin Niruttinanon and Khun Sumrith Thanakarnjanasuth, as well as new board members Khun Jack Srisumrid and Khun Theekharoj Piamphongsarn. I cannot speak highly enough of our new partners from the time we have spent together so far, they have shown great professionalism, perseverance, patience and diligence and, on a personal level, our relationship is excellent so long may that continue.
I have already spent a lot of time with Khunying Sasima, who I am delighted to work alongside as Co-Chairman. I warmed to her when we first met and she is a really wonderful lady. She has spent a lot of time in this country and stayed in Bray in the past, in fact she has now bought a home there and as an aside she told me the dining room is being decorated in Royal blue! When the partnership was first announced, I had a message from a friend of mine who ran one of the world’s biggest advertising agencies and knew Sasima from some years ago. He told me what a fine lady and businesswoman she is, and coming from a well-respected friend, that spoke volumes for me and confirmed what I already knew about her.
I’ve also spent time with Khun Sumrith, Khun Narin, Khun Jack and Khun Theekharoj and look forward to working with them in the future because they are good people who are also very successful in their own right in Thailand. The consortium don’t want any publicity, they want to get on with it and be involved in a very nice gentle way. I’ve had lots of sleepless nights thinking about Reading Football Club over the years, but I must admit that the last 12 months has been the most challenging period of my entire stewardship. But I’m delighted we have now reached a situation where we can be positive. There were a few interested parties but these were the ones I favoured for a number of reasons. They love the club and the ethos we have had for many years.
When you are choosing the prospective owners of such a treasured institution as Reading Football Club, you have to be incredibly careful and I think we have chosen well on that front. We have had some very interesting suitors in the past, but we have found decent straightforward partners. We now have financial stability and three very worthwhile investors. With processes like this in the past they have been very rushed, but on this occasion everyone has taken their time which is good because we got to know them and they got to know us. It’s wonderful the way it has happened and I am delighted with that. And to their credit they took a leap of faith with new investment in the transfer window before everything had gone through, so we are already seeing their positive influence on the club. I was also encouraged by their approach that if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.
It is early days but if everyone can get it right and do what they are supposed to do, then there will be no changes. Obviously they are ambitious and looking toward the Premier League as soon as possible. Therefore they will be making sure they have input and influence, doing things positively toward getting the club where it should be.
They are ambitious, not to just to develop the football club but the area. We have been talking about different educational links, property links and so on. An awful lot could take place over the upcoming years. They have also subscribed to the new training ground at Bearwood and plans are ongoing. That is a major project and again speaks volumes toward their ambition.
The new consortium won’t put timescales on achieving things because you would be a fool if you did that. However, what I can say is there is willingness to achieve. There’s no drop down date to reach the Premier League but every club with an ambition will tell you the target is to get there and we are no different. We’ve got a great manager and a great squad and now it’s wonderful we have new partners because it brings steadiness to the squad.
Anybody inside the club will tell you how difficult it has been recently. I cannot speak highly enough of all of our staff who work so tirelessly for the cause, there are far too many to mention by name but they know who they are. I would like to take this opportunity to thank them for all of their efforts, as well as my fellow board members.
There are a lot of people inside and outside the stadium that have put so much work into this club, there have been some testing moments and for us not to have had positive news would have been the end of the world for me personally, having been involved for nearly 25 years. The last few months were dreadful but now there’s this air of security around the club. I would also like to offer my gratitude to our manager Nigel Adkins, Director of Football Nick Hammond, the entire coaching staff and his squad of players for their unwavering positivity. This manager has kept a very strong counsel during what has been an incredibly difficult time and he has certainly won my respect for the way he has conducted himself both in public and in private. And to his credit we have also started this season well, against the background of a horrendous injury list and with so many Academy players coming to the fore.
Last, but by no means least, I would like to personally thank every one of our loyal supporters for their unstinting dedication and understanding during the long time it has taken us to resolve this situation at the club. I know it has been testing and we were only a fraction away from reaching the play-offs last season.
I have owned this great club for almost a quarter of a century and it has given me some of the greatest memories of my life. I am incredibly proud of the success we have enjoyed both on and off the pitch, reaching the Premier League on two occasions, relocating the club to the magnificent Madejski Stadium, almost qualifying for Europe, twice playing at Wembley Stadium, winning Football League Family Club of the Year - there are so many moments that will stick with me forever and it will give me great pride to continue to represent the club as Co-Chairman in the future. I see myself as an ambassador for this club, one of the oldest and most well-respected in the land (clubs, that is!) This week the press asked me how much I have spent in the 24 years in charge, to be honest I don’t know the exact figure but it’s a very substantial amount of money. But when I look around and see what has been achieved and the wonderful people that work here then it has been all well worth it.
Sir John Madejski OBE, DL
More on our new shareholders
Khunying Sasima Srivikorn is a very successful leading business lady in Thailand who has accumulated more than 50 years of experience in various business including Private Schools, Hotel, Real Estate and Carpet Manufacturing. She received many royal decorations bestowed by His Majesty the King of Thailand for her contribution for social and public service.
Narin Niruttinanon is among the current generation of one of Thailand’s most respected industrial families that has become one of the world's leading food processing and agriculture companies. Narin is an advocate of seafood sustainability and responsible fishing and involved in a number of fishery improvement programs.
Sumrith Thanakarnjanasuth is a major shareholder and CEO of Universal Apparel Co.,Ltd., a leading manufacturer and exporter of casualwear & sportswear garments for global international brands including Calvin Klein, Michael Kors, Tommy Hilfiger, Adidas and Reebok. He is also involved in property development including housing and condominiums.