PERHAPS the biggest cheer from Reading FC fans this season came this morning following the departure of chief executive Ron Gourlay.

The 55-year-old Scot failed to win over supporters during his short time at the club and quit his position this morning.

Gourlay stepped into the role in July 2017 and made promises he simply couldn’t keep.

The ex-Manchester United and Chelsea administrator told how he loved ‘those big European nights’ and how he could see this as a possibility for Reading in the future.

The reality is Reading have been fighting relegation ever since and only scraped Championship survival on final day of last season.

There has been little improvement this season either with Paul Clement’s men only just out of the bottom three on goal difference.

Gourlay continued to make bold predictions that never materialised.

He raised fans’ expectations by suggesting the club were ready to spend up to £10m on a striker during the summer transfer window.

As it turned out, Sam Baldock (£2m) and Marc McNulty (£1m) were brought in.

Several sources at the club have told me Gourlay was a divisive character behind the scenes.

He did not see eye-to-eye with former technical director, Brian Tevreden, and their poor working relationship is thought to have been behind the Dutchman’s decision to jump ship in September to become chief executive at KSV Roeselare, the Belgian club also belonging to Royals owners Dai Yongge and sister Dai Xiu Li.

It is also believed former Academy manager Lee Herron - now at Arsenal - long-serving head of marketing, Dara Thomas, and commercial director, Adam Benson, all left in recent months due to a breakdown in communication with Gourlay.

Senior club staff with more than 20 years’ experience have told me how Gourlay would walk straight past them without even an acknowledgement.

Once source told me: ‘You won’t find many people at the club with a good work to say about him.”

Gourlay’s relationship with the local media was also lukewarm.

He was rarely put forward for interview – a decision presumably of his own rather than the club’s media team.

And when he did speak, there was often little substance behind his words.

Some Reading fans are now predicting manager Paul Clement could be next to leave, though I understand there is no truth in the rumour at present.

It was Gourlay who led the campaign to bring in Clement as Jaap Stam’s replacement in March, having got to know him at Chelsea when Clement was assistant to Carlo Ancelotti.

However, Clement is skating on thin ice after a poor start to the Championship campaign, and Royals may not want Gourlay involved in the process of finding a new manager, should they decide to go down that road.

Concerns over the commercial side of the business will not have done Gourlay’s cause much help either.

He was tasked with boosting revenue streams and talked about a major new sponsorship deal from next season that could include selling the naming rights to Madejski Stadium when the contract with current sponsors Carabao has expired.

Yet there appears to be very little movement on that front at a time when attendances have also dropped dramatically.

Personally, I would like to see Nick Hammond or Tevreden come back as Gourlay’s replacement.

I am not sure Royals will go down that route, but the club needs a steady hand at the helm more than they ever have.

Relegation to League One would be nothing short of disastrous and Royals must pull out all the stops to make sure it doesn’t happen.