NIGEL Howe has been reappointed as Reading FC chief executive on a permanent basis.

Howe had been combining the role with that of vice chairman while Royals searched for a replacement for Ron Gourlay following his acrimonious departure last month.

But the club confirmed last night that Howe, 60, has now accepted the position of full-time CEO.

The news will be welcomed by Reading fans who believe Howe will add some much-needed stability behind the scenes.

Howe said: “I am honoured that the club’s owners have asked me to retake the reins and help lead this club forward.

“Both on and off the pitch, challenges lie ahead. However, with our fans’ support, I am very pleased to accept this exciting opportunity to help the club better engage with our fans, better connect with our community, establish its identity and achieve its aspirations going forward.”

Royals co-owner Dai Yongge added: “As we said recently, the importance of this appointment was not to be underestimated and, as owners, we sought a CEO who would be the right fit for Reading.

“In Nigel Howe, the club’s direction is being entrusted to a very safe pair of hands and an individual who knows the club, its staff, the town, its reputation, its supporters and its potential better than anyone.

“He has tasted success here before and I believe he can help us to achieve more success in the future. So we are very much looking forward to working closely with Nigel and his senior management team to build a positive future for this football club.”

Howe was brought in by Reading in 1995 to oversee the move from Elm Park to Madejski Stadium.

The club enjoyed its most successful ever period since Howe joined the board, a position he held until July 2017 when he made way for Gourlay to focus on the development of the new Bearwood training ground and Royal Elm Park development.

Royals president and former owner Sir John Madejski admitted Royals made a mistake in appointing ex-Manchester United and Chelsea administrator, Gourlay.

“The chief executive came in from large enterprises and he didn’t get the culture of Reading,” said Madejski, who was chairman from 1990 until 2012.

“Reading is largely a parochial club, it is deeply set in the hearts and minds of community and I don’t think that really penetrated and I think that was where it went wrong in my humble opinion.

"He had the ear of Mr Dai, but it was strange and he didn’t really bother with hearts and minds which is what you have to do. But I want to be positive because we are going forward now. At last we have a change.”