Summer Rebuild Continues At Reading As Charlie Savage Signs From Manchester United
Manchester United Academy Graduate Charlie Savage has penned a four-year contract at the Select Car Leasing Arena as he joins Reading who are looking to reshape their squad with off-the-field issues looming over them.
Savage is Reading’s fourth addition this summer, joining Harvey Knibbs and Sam Smith from Cambridge United as well as Lewis Wing from Wycombe Wanderers.
Having spent last season on loan at Forest Green Rovers, making 15 league appearances, Savage’s addition reflects the club’s ambition to not only sign players with valuable League One experience but who will also provide the youthful energy that the high-intensity system of new manager Ruben Sellés requires.
Reading confirmed the appointment of Spaniard Sellés as their new head coach last month but their summer of uncertainty looks set to rumble on.
The Royals entered the summer with only 12 senior players with contracts extending to the 2023/24 season. This means that player recruitment was not only necessary but essential.
Savage joins the club in a precarious position. Having been docked six points during both their doomed 2022/23 campaign and two years prior, after posting losses of nearly £20 million over the £39 million limit allowed by the English Football League, financial issues still loom over the Berkshire side.
The club are currently under a transfer embargo, due to breaching EFL rules on profit and sustainability. This renders them unable to sign players for a fee and it is thought that Savage was allowed to join by Manchester United with the inclusion of a large sell-on clause.
Reading were also charged with failing to pay players on time on three separate occasions last season. Their most recent threat is a winding up petition, issued by HMRC on June 20th due to a failure to pay tax.
The good news for Reading fans, if you can call it that, is that the club have previously been issued with three other winding-up petitions and are still in business, however, each one holds with it the very real possibility of administration.
The club has been owned by Chinese businessman Dai Yongge since 2017. Ominously, Yongge’s two other ventures into football club ownership have ended with both clubs ceasing to exist as Beijing Renhe were dissolved and Belgian KSV Roeselare went bankrupt following relegation.
Reading supporters are all but united in their desire for Yongge to sell the club with the fan group ‘Sell Before We Dai’ putting significant pressure on the billionaire.
Regardless of the fans’ wishes, chief executive Dayong Pang has reiterated Mr Yongge’s commitment to the club, writing in a letter to the fans, “Mr Dai is working very hard to resolve these issues to ensure the future of Reading Football Club is stable, successful, progressive and positive.”
Savage will begin pre-season at the club’s Bearwood Training Ground in preparation for the club’s first season in the third tier of English football since 2001.
Fans will be hoping for a promotion and would much prefer to be looking over their shoulders at a chasing pack of opposition football clubs rather than at impending financial issues.