Bearwood’s new beginning.
The very moment our Chinese shareholders took charge at Reading Football Club, Mr Dai was direct and open in prioritising the development of our new training facility at Bearwood Park.
The natural evolution of our club has seen it outgrow its Hogwood Park surroundings and, as we continue to invest in the Premier League’s Elite Player Performance Plan structure for elite Academies, new facilities became necessary to match the club’s ambition and objectives for the future.
The site at Bearwood Estate was identified and contracts were initially exchanged with the Royal Merchant Navy School Foundation for the purchase of nearly 120 acres of land in October 2013. The planning process was difficult and protracted and progress stalled at times but, in little more than two years at the helm, Mr Dai’s determination and vision has entirely transformed the promise of a modern purpose-built training facility for the whole club into a reality.
His investment in the project has been extraordinary and it is now beginning to blossom.
This morning, the first football was kicked at Bearwood Park - José Gomes’ first team trained in glorious sunshine on the immaculately prepared surface of the main show pitch.
Chief Executive Nigel Howe said, “Hogwood has been our home for 15 years, but Bearwood is bigger, better and so bold in the statement it makes to our supporters about this club’s aspirations.”
Bearwood Estate was always the ideal location for the club’s new training facility; 3km west of the centre of Wokingham at the edge of the village of Sindlesham, it is just 5 miles from Madejski Stadium. And, once fully complete, it will create an idyllic environment which will benefit both staff and players alike.
“The playing pitches, warm-up areas, 3G surface and contemporary buildings are surrounded by scenic woodland and beside a picturesque 20ha lake,” Howe continued. “And, registered by Historic England as a listed parks and gardens site, we have retained the true character of the site’s mid-19th century heritage in the form of its listed grade II lodge buildings, its brick stables and the walled garden area. It is in this sort of environment, I am confident Reading Football Club can thrive.
“The size and scale of the project should not be underestimated. At 120 acres in total, the facility itself will be nearly three times the size of our existing operation at Hogwood. And for our owner, Mr Dai, this already represents a £50m plus project and it has been thanks to his investment, resolute conviction and positive impetus behind it that this development has gathered such momentum to now reach a stage which allows us to welcome first team football onto the grass for the very first training session at Bearwood.”
The pitches are now ready for action, however development of the facility will continue apace throughout the 2019-20 season.
The first team are expected to continue to call Hogwood Park their home this season as construction of a purpose-built first team building and a bespoke Academy facility - as well as a number of other ancillary buildings - near completion.
Mr Yongge Dai said, “This new forward-thinking facility has been carefully researched and planned out. It has been designed to serve not only our first team, but also every age group in our Academy, our Women’s team and our staff. Bearwood Park will help bring Reading Football Club even closer together.
“I believe this will be one of the very best training grounds in the country and I am delighted to open the gates to the first team for the first time this morning.”