READING FC owner Dai Yongge wants to protect the club’s heritage of producing young players, chief executive Ron Gourlay insisted.

Royals have seen a conveyor belt of young talent emerge in the last two seasons.

The likes of Liam Kelly, Sam Smith and Omar Richards have all become first-team regulars while several others have excelled on loan spells.

Andrija Novakovic scored more than 20 goals at SC Telstar in Holland and could compete for a place in Paul Clement’s plans next season.

And Gourlay insisted Mr Dai will continue to fund youth development.

He asserted: “I’ve heard lots of stories about Bearwood, the training ground, protecting the club’s heritage which is the youth, and we have an owner that has actually done something about that. He’s ploughing money in.

“For someone who isn’t interested, to put £30m or £40m into the training ground, that would be surprising.”

Reading Chronicle:

Liam Kelly is one of many Academy products to have broken into the first team recently.

Mr Dai and his sister Dai Xiu Li took over Royals in May 2017 after the former owners – a Thai consortium – could no longer afford to maintain it.

Mr Dai, 50, who is predominantly based in his homeland, China, was only present at 11 games during the team’s season of struggle.

He has not yet faced the media in Berkshire and supporters are still waiting to find out what his long-term vision is.

But former Chelsea chief Gourlay batted away any suggestion the owners do not care about the club.

“It’s something we’re going to have to come to terms with,” he argued. “Different owners like to throw themselves into different situations. Our owner is incredibly well-engaged with the football club.

“The plan has not changed. They were very disappointed with last season because we felt we had added enough into the squad to give us the push on.

“Owners aren’t engaged with the media in a lot of cases but that doesn’t mean they’re not doing what’s right for the football club.”

Reading Chronicle:

Royals co-owner, Dai Yongge.

Gourlay, 55, says he is confident Mr Dai will be more visible at Madejski Stadium next season.

He concluded: “He is engaged, he’s not the type to be sitting behind the goal but he will be here. He will be giving me every piece of support I need, and Ms Dai, to take the club forward.

“I think he’ll make more games next season than he did last season. He’s a low-key owner. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t care for the club.”

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