Majority shareholder speaks to Reading FC PlayerFirst of all, why Reading as a football club?
A group of us was interested in investing in a football club and we went around to see what opportunities we could find in England. English football is very popular in Asia and it’s easier for us to grow the brand [of an English team] in Asia than one from another league. When we were informed about Reading we looked a little bit deeper and we found that this is a good opportunity, not only because the team was successful last year and almost made it to the play-offs, but you also have a very good academy and the club has been recognised for the facilities of the stadium, which is very good. Also, it seems like everyone, the fans, have a good experience in coming to support the club at home games. But not only the football itself attracted us. We found that Reading has a very good university and a lot of linkage with Asian people and students that come and study here every year. If you think that there are 1,000, 2,000 students coming here every year to study before going back to Asia then they will learn to appreciate the football culture of here. When they go back, it makes it easier for us to grow the club in Asia. There are a lot of opportunities that we see and we hope to make Reading a better football club.
What are your hopes for the future of Reading Football Club?
I need to mention that when we went through the fit-and-proper process with the football league, the MD of the league told us that we are the guardians of the club. He said that we need to take care of the club because the club does not only belong to the owners. The fans, the players and the community as a whole have a share of the football club. We very much appreciate what he said. Once we came in, I can say that the financial situation of the club, we maybe underestimated the issue a bit and it might take us a little bit longer to have financial stability in place at the club. The short-term goal is to bring back the stability to the club, whilst also making sure that we have a good team and making sure that we comply with financial fair play. Starting next year, we will look into improving our squad and obviously the goal that everyone involved in this club wants to see is for us to be back in the Premier League. That is very important and we are working very hard to make sure we achieve that as soon as possible. That will need to take a lot of work. We know what we want and are trying to see how best to achieve it.
Traditionally, Reading has not possessed the same financial resources as some of the top clubs in England. How important does that make the academy and developing our own players?
The club is recognised in this country as having one of the best academies around. It is an asset that we have and the best asset that we could have hoped for. We have a string of young talents coming through and we hope that they can be developed by their coaches, then hopefully it is a matter of time before they are given an opportunity to play in the senior squad. We want to make sure that we can nurture all the talents that we can in the UK.
Talking about Monday evening, what a fantastic occasion it was for everyone at the club; the fans the players and yourself...
It was a massive win for the club. It is fair to that it doesn’t come around very often! Congratulations to the coach and the team and I am sure that the fans are all really happy. Now we look forward to our game at Wembley. It was a fantastic atmosphere and, of course, I enjoyed it more because we were winning. The team did very well and we did not given one opportunity to Bradford. They tried very hard but it was our night.
How much did you enjoy the game personally? The atmosphere was incredible, wasn't it?
After the slight dip of performances from the team a few months ago, this brings back the confidence of the team and everyone feels very happy. I hope that everyone will keep supporting us and back the team until the end of the season. We will see if it we can get past Arsenal and go the final. This is a bonus for our first season. We didn’t expect this and we are very happy.