RON Gourlay accepts Reading FC fans have every right to criticise the club’s woeful start to the season.

Royals are bottom of the Championship on two points after six games and still without a win.

Paul Clement’s side were booed off the pitch last Saturday after a 2-1 defeat by Sheffield Wednesday at Madejski Stadium.

It is not the start Royals were hoping for having narrowly avoided relegation to League One on the final day of last season.

And CEO Gourlay admits supporters deserve better.

“I spoke to fans when I arrived and expectation was very high,” said Gourlay, who joined the club in July 2017. “You saw the comments in the media before a ball had been kicked and that expectation was high.

“We all felt we could do better by building on the season before and strengthening in certain positions.

“It was a difficult season and we’ve learned from that.

“There is criticism out there at the moment and we can’t argue with that. Two points from 18 is not where we or the fans expect to be.

“We’ve got to remain positive and look for solutions which Paul and his team are doing.”

Gourlay, though, suggests problems run much deeper than many fans realise.

He argued Royals still wear the ‘scars’ from having three different owners since Sir John Madejski stepped aside in 2012 after 22 years at the helm.

Reading Chronicle: Royal approval: Reading FC chairman Sir John Madejski.

Sir John Madejski spent 22 years as Reading FC chairman.

He suggested: “The challenges we have on and off the field – if I’m honest, without pointing the finger or making excuses – there are scars here from having three different owners in the last five years.

“It’s only when you get into the business that you realise what they are and you start to put things right.

“A lot of things need addressing from software in the ticket office to GDPR (General Data Protection RFegulation). But none of these things matter.

“A lot of hard work goes on to take the club in the right direction, but at the end of the day that all gets lost if results aren’t what they should be.”

Gourlay also bears full responsibility for transfers having brought in 17 news players since joining the club in July 2017.

“Ultimately the buck stops with me and the owner,” he stressed. “Recruitment is the key. Brian [Tevreden, football director] works very hard with Paul as he did with Jaap Stam.

“He’s very important to the club, he has the knowledge on the football side. I’m there as their administrative support.”

Reading Chronicle:

Royals' football director, Brian Tevreden, right, with former boss Jaap Stam.

Nevertheless, Reading must turn their form around quickly or risk being sucked into another relegation battle this season.

And Gourlay refused to dress things up, saying: “If I’m honest, the start has been disappointing. Everybody at the club from the owners to myself, the board, the players and the manager expected more.

“We had an intense pre-season and we were looking for a better start. But there are very fine margins in the Championship and we’ve got to start picking up points because we don’t want to find ourselves in a similar situation to last season.”

He continued: “I felt and the fans felt we should have taken at least a point against Derby, Blackburn was difficult to take after being in a strong position before two penalties turned the game on its head.

“These are the small margins in the first six games that could have gone the other way.

“But every week Paul gives you where he is from the football side.”