READING FC chief executive Ron Gourlay took time out during the current international break to reflect on the team's woeful start to the Championship campaign.

The 55-year-old Scotsman faced a grilling from local media this week as he searched for answers to the team's problems under boss Paul Clement.

In a revealing interview, Gourlay suggests ownership issues in recent years have left the club with deep 'scars' that have not properly healed.

He also addresses a host of topics including:

  • Summer spending.
  • Support of the Chinese owners.
  • Fans' criticism.
  • His role at the club.
  • Responsbility for signings.
  • Bearwood training complex update.

Here is a full transcript of Ron Gourlay's interview:

Poor start to the season:

“If I’m honest, it's 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.”

Two points from 18 so far:

“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.

Reading Chronicle:

Reading lost 2-1 at home to Sheffield Wednesday a week ago.

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

Reading spent around £5m on players this summer including £2m for Brighton's Sam Baldock and £1m for Coventry City's Marc McNulty.

“We’ve got to work within our means. Last year was a learning process for me. I had to learn very quickly.

"You learn a lot when you come into a club that you didn’t know before. You see the challenges ahead. Things seemed good on the pitch. We just missed out in the play-off, he new owners came in and I arrived in July.

“We expected better things because we supported the manager.

“The owner is very supportive of the head coach. No player has been brought into this club in my time that hasn’t been recommended or agreed by the coach.

“I spoke to fans when I arrived and expectation was very high. You see the comment in the media before a ball had been kicked that expectation was high.

“We all felt we could do better by building on the season before and strengthening in certain positions. But it was a difficult season and we’ve learned from that.

Reading Chronicle:

Sam Baldock is sent flying in the defeat to Sheffield Wednesday.

“There is criticism out there at the moment but 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.”

Ron Gourlay has ultimate control over signing players:

“Ultimately the buck stops with me and the owner.

"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."

Scars from the past:

“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.

Reading Chronicle: Takeover delay: Anton Zingarevich, left, with Reading FC chairman Sir John Madejski.

Ex-Reading chairman Sir John Madejski sold the club to Anton Zingarevich, left, in 2012.

“A lot of things need addressing from software in the ticket office to GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation).

"But none of these things really 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.”

Seventeen players signed by Reading since Ron Gourlay arrived in July 2017:

“The bulk of players have been a success. What defines success? Look at last season, we strengthened the team in the right positions but we had horrendous injuries from day one.

"We were seven or eight players down through the early part. We had games where we had three Under 23s in the side.

“It’s about integrating these players into the team.

“The biggest issue we had last year, without getting too much into the technical side, was that we had done so well the previous year and opposition teams set up to stop us playing.

“That really was a difficult problem.”

Splashing the cash in summer 2017:

 “It was the biggest spend we’ve ever had at the club.”

Spending just £5m on transfer this summer:

“Profit sustainability rules. We have a supportive owner (Dai Yongge). If he was able to put more money into the playing side he would.

“We’ve got to work like every other football club. Rules are there and we’ve got to work between them.

“We’re now looking for the first batch of players brought in to do a job over the next five seasons, we’ve got to look at them to step up to be honest.

Reading Chronicle:

Ron Gourlay with Reading co-owner, Dai Xiu Li.

“But we had to move quickly in the market place. Paul wanted to strengthen in certain areas to move it forward.”

On reducing the size of Paul Clement's first-team squad:

“I speak to Paul every day and am aware of the situation. The intention was to reduce the squad this summer.

“In an ideal world you move players on and bring others in, but availability doesn’t always allow you to do that.

“We had to move quickly on the payers Paul wanted to bring in and who were available.

"Then we picked up quite a few injuries to key players. Other players could have gone out on loan, but injurires made it very difficult to reduce that squad.

“So we are where we are. We can address a lot of that in January, but at the end of the day you can only play 11 players and results are not affected by the size of the squad.

“Players aren’t just kicking around – we have seven players injured at the moment.

“I haven’t missed a league game since I walked through this door so I understand you need depth in the squad.

“Last season we needed every player we had. This season’s squad is side-by-side with that one with injuries.

“But what’s more important is keeping players happy which means managing the group which is the best we’ve got at the present time.

Reading Chronicle:

Dutch midfielder Pelle Clement was among those players expected to move on over the summer.

“Everybody at the club is working hard, we just need to raise the bar again. It’s fine margins, but there is responsibility and accountability on and off the field and we’ve all got to do our bit.”

Reading FC average 0.8 points per game since Ron Gourlay arrived:

“We’ve got to draw a line in the sand and look at the next six games and see where the club goes from there.

“It’s not all about Ron Gourlay. There are a lot of key people at this club and everybody has to do their job to the highest quality.

“But there is no one person making the decisions, we very much work as a group.”

High staff turnover behind the scenes:

"Lee Herron (former Academy manager now with Arsenal) decided it was best to move on and that’s fine.

"We brought in Ged Roddy who is one of the most experienced guys around. He knew Eamonn Dolan very well and I think he’s a fantastic replacement.

“At every club there is change, there are always bigger opportunities.

“But we want to keep our best people and sometimes if people want to move on it’s not a bad thing.”

Ron Gourlay describing Ron Gourlay:

“Hard working, very thorough. I like people to do their jobs and lead their departments, but the key for me is honesty.

"Everyone has a bad day at the office, but you have to be honest, learn from mistakes and be prepared to listen.

“I’m a confident guy. I have desire and that’s what I like in Paul Clement.

“The fans are supportive of Paul. There’s an honesty and desire there and he doesn’t shy away from things. That’s important to us.”

Bearwood training complex update:

"There’s a lot of work and landscaping to be done with floodlighting and technical requirements of the analysts. But things are moving forward.

“We’re still a long way away and we’re looking at next summer or December 2019 before we’re in place.”

Target for this season:

“After six games I think we know the fine margins, we have desire to put it right. Nobody at the club is happy with the present position, but I believe we can continue to push up the league.

“We have the backing of our owners. We talk almost every day and they were here last weekend. We’ve got to keep pushing forward.

“It’s difficult – it’s difficult for everybody – but you’ve got to have belief that you can turn the corner and find the solutions.

Like everyone else we expected to be starting better. Traditionally Reading are slow starters, but we’ve got to shake that off.

“We have a lot of quality in our squad and we need to push on.”

On Chinese owners Dai Yongge and Dai Xiu Li: 

"They are totally committed to the club. They are here as often as they can be, they send out newsletters and they have good relationships with key staff.

“We had a barbecue the other week and the owners came to that and met with all of the staff, players and coaches.”

Backing of supporters:

“I know it’s difficult for the fans. I thought they were very good during the last game and stuck with us. It was very tough.

“We need them and they’re a key part in lifting the club.

“But we’ve got to give them the experience they want when they come to the stadium.

“They just have to stick with us as we try and push ourselves up the league and then see how far we can go.”