Boss Ruben Selles fears Reading may have to play with empty stands after protest

By Sports Desk January 13, 2024

Reading manager Ruben Selles fears that the club may be forced to play home games behind closed doors “maybe for the rest of the season” after their League One match against Port Vale was abandoned.

Play was halted at 0-0 in the 17th minute after around 1,000 home fans invaded the pitch in the latest protest against Chinese owner Dai Yongge, who is trying to sell the club.

After repeated PA announcements for the fans to leave the pitch – including a threat of the game being called off – a hardcore group of about 40 stood in the centre circle and refused to move back to the stands.

Both clubs consulted with the EFL over the situation but at 4.25pm, the game was abandoned and will be restaged at a later midweek date.

“We know that there could be repercussions,” Selles said. “A points deduction is unlikely, but it can happen.

“It could be that we play with an empty stadium for one or two games or even the rest of the season.

“There could be a financial punishment, of course.

“It’s a big variety of things and it will be up to a panel of experts to decide.”

Selles added: “We knew that something was going on (the planned on-pitch protest) from reading the social media and all its comments.

“Basically, I had a decision to make. The decision was to come here to compete and don’t get distracted by those things.

“If it happened, we will just take it. Sometimes, with social media, things never happen. So if you lose focus and concentration, you can be late into the game.

“You can then lose the game because you were not ready in the key moments.

“Then it happened and we just took it as it comes. We went inside, people (the fans) made their point clear and the game got postponed.

“After the pitch invasion, I made sure that our players and their (Vale) players were all inside the players’ tunnel.

“Not that I was worried about the situation. I knew that our people (the fans) were not going to make any stupidity in that way.

“The invasion was not aggressive, it was passive. It was just to make the point.

“Listen, I’m sympathetic with the fact that we all want the best for Reading football club.

“I think our fans are proud with what the team is doing, the way in which we are playing and competing.

“But the fans are getting frustrated about the similar things that we are.

“I’m sympathetic but, really, what I want is just to play football matches and win football matches.”

Vale manager Andy Crosby was not available for comment on the abandonment afterwards.

But the club later posted on X, formerly Twitter: “Today’s Sky Bet League One match against Reading has been abandoned. We’d like to thank our supporters for making the trip to Berkshire and wish you a safe trip back.”

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