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Football fans celebrate as stadium declared ‘Asset of Community Value’ by local Council

Reading Football Club fans are celebrating the news that their stadium has been granted Asset of Community Value (ACV) status by Reading Borough Council.

The move follows a meeting between fans and councillors at Reading Borough Council to express concerns about the current direction of the football club.

ACVs are land or buildings where, if a local authority agrees, the current use furthers the social wellbeing or social interests of the local community. Being granted ACV status means the owner of the asset is unable to dispose of it until a specified timeframe has expired.

The application was made by Supporters’ Trust at Reading (STAR) and supported by Sell Before We Dai, a group set up to force a change of ownership at the club. Reading FC has faced significant challenges under its owner Dai Yongge recently, resulting in points deductions, an HMRC winding up petition over unpaid tax, and the threat of administration.

Sarah Turner, Sell Before We Dai spokesperson and STAR Chair, said: “We are so grateful for the support of Reading Borough Council and the helpful ruling on our ACV application.

 “The Sell Before We Dai campaign isn’t just about pressuring our owner Dai Yongge to sell, but also protecting the long-term future of the football club. This includes ensuring our stadium remains the home of Reading FC, and not an economic asset for unfit and improper owners.”

The campaign group Sell Before We Dai has also announced plans for a protest march on 28th October 2023 before a home match takes place against Portsmouth FC. It has also recently launched a crowdfunding campaign, raising nearly £4,000 in the first few days.

Councillor Jason Brock, Reading Borough Council Leader, added: “It continues to be an understandably concerning time for every Reading supporter. While the recent points deduction was the latest blow for the club’s fans, it is fair to say the biggest battles to come will likely take place off the pitch.

“I hope the designation sends a message to the owners, but I would repeat the calls that myself and Councillor Barnett-Ward made previously to Government for far better regulation and intervention nationally. Councils should not be left with such limited powers when a huge part of their area’s life and soul faces real threat.”