IT'S a lowly time to be a Reading FC fan, writes Courtney Friday.

Relegation to the third tier seems to be an ever-increasing possibility as managerless Royals continue to struggle on a weekly basis.

There have been countless problems both on and off of the pitch, including poor tactical decisions, quick-fire appointments and a chief executive who angered both staff and supporters.

But the problems are rooted far deeper than the ongoing issues of the last two seasons.

For years, supporters have been crying out for Reading FC to put their money on the table and sign a proven goal-getter.

Let’s face it, the last really prolific hitman the club had was the outspoken Dave Kitson. The now 38-year-old was tall, powerful and just had the knack of putting the ball into the back of the net.

Kitson wasn’t the most technically gifted footballer, the only tactical instruction he received from former boss Steve Coppell was to go out and play up front.

But Kitson, an absolute bargain at £150,000 from Cambridge United in 2003, knew where the back of the net was, as he proved 62 times in blue and white hoops.

The 6ft 3” forward left a then relegated Reading in 2008, moving back to the Premier League with Stoke City.

Reading’s other chief goal-getter at the time, Kevin Doyle, left the club for Wolverhampton Wanderers shortly after.

Reading Chronicle: Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle in action for Royals.

Fellow Irishman Shane Long then enjoyed one glamourous season at Madejski Stadium before he was sold off to West Bromwich Albion.

The sales of Kitson, Long and Doyle combined raked in more than £15m in profit. Not a bad return seeing as they cost less than £250,000 combined.

Reading were struggling financially, admittedly, but that was their time to strike.

Year after year, supporters have questioned the club’s transfer policy when it comes to bringing in a striker.

Jason Roberts was a headline signing in 2011 but at the age of 34, he was never going to be what one may call ‘one for the future’.

Adam Le Fondre had joined the club earlier in the season and soon lit up Madejski Stadium with his poacher-like efforts.

Le Fondre did share the goal-getting knack which Kitson had possessed before him. Again, he was hardly the most technically-gifted footballer in the world, but he could carve out a chance and put the ball in the back of the net.

Reading’s financial troubles worsened following their second relegation from the Premier League to the Championship and Le Fondre was shipped off to Cardiff City to help Royals out of some tax-related trouble.

By that time Pavel Pogrebnyak was also plying his trade at Madejski Stadium. Having impressed in the Premier League with Fulham, supporters thought the club may finally have found a striker who could emulate Kitson.

The ‘Big f****ing Russian’, as he was nicknamed, certainly had the power, but he lacked that natural goal-scoring touch. And while he made himself a bit of a cult hero among the supporters, he never really justified his eye-watering weekly wage packet.

Pogrebnyak was the next forward to be shipped off, heading back to his native Russia to see out the rest of his footballing career.

The 35-year-old is still playing, most recently for Ural Yekaterinburg in the Russian Premier League.

In 2014, Reading had the chance to end their long-standing pursuit for a goal-scoring centre forward.

A deal for Cedric Bakambu, who was recently sold for a staggering 35 million euros, fell through at the final hurdle, and the Congolese striker ended up joining Turkish side Bursaspor instead.

At that time, current England and Premier League centre forward Callum Wilson was linked with a move to Madejski Stadium, but Royals were reportedly unwilling to meet Coventry City’s £3m demand.

Reading Chronicle:

Bournemouth and England striker Callum Wilson.

Wilson is now a Premier League regular who recently scored on his international debut for the Three Lions.

Just pause for a second and think, if Reading had been willing to spend just £3m, they could have secured Callum Wilson’s signature.

In his first season in the Championship with Bournemouth, Wilson bagged 23 goals in 50 appearances, firing the Cherries into the Premier League in the process.

Meanwhile, Reading had to settle for a gut-wrenching seventh-place finish after missing out on the play-offs in the final game of the season.

That was their chance to replace Kitson. Sure, Wilson has had his injury problems, but when he’s fit and firing, he is one of the most frightening strikers the nation has to offer.

And it all came down to finances, Reading would have been an attractive place for Wilson to go. The club has a brilliant stadium, a fantastic training ground (with a brand new one on the horizon) and a thriving academy.

Royals just refused to put their hand in their pocket so to speak. Glenn Murray came in on loan after falling out of favour at Crystal Palace due to injury problems.

He hit the ground running at Madejski Stadium but we’re led to believe that Royals could not meet his wage demands to sign him permanently at the end of his loan stint.

Now, at the tender age of 35, he is one of the Premier League’s top goal-scorers this season.

Nahki Wells was linked with a move to Reading on a regular basis, but again – Reading just would not stump up the cash to bring him in.

Instead, they signed Deniss Rakels, who, after quickly falling out of favour at Madejski Stadium, has recently signed for a team with less than 2,000 followers on social media platform Instagram.

Yann Kermorgant enjoyed a glittering season in front of goal in 2016/17, helping fire Royals to within reach of a return to the Premier League.

But again, the French forward was 36 and coming towards the end of his career, so he was hardly a plan for the future.

And that was proven just months later when he suffered a freak training-ground injury, pretty much bring his Madejski Stadium career to an end – right after signing a lucrative contract extension.

Reading Chronicle: Yann Kermorgant penalty sends Reading through to Championship play-off final

Former Reading striker, Yann Kermorgant.

Ex-chief executive Ron Gourlay teased fans with the rouse that Reading were prepared to spend £10m on a striker in the summer of 2017/2018.

Speaking at a rare press conference, Gourlay talked the talk by insisting he had identified that Royals had a lack of firepower upfront and he was prepared to put an end to the long-standing wait.

That, of course, turned out to be false. Reading brought in highly-rated Coventry City striker Marc Mcnulty and Brighton and Hove forward Sam Baldock, for a combined total of around £3.5m or so.

The pair have both found first-team opportunities limited, McNulty more so, and have so far amassed five league goals between them.

And once again, Reading find themselves rooted at the bottom end of the Championship table, scrapping for their lives to get away from the dreaded relegation zone.

But that’s what happens when you don’t bring in a top-quality striker. Goals become few and far between and results slip away.

Reading have had opportunities to replace the great goalscorers of the past and their refusal to spend money has been their downfall.

Supporters have been shouting it for years, but their cries fall upon deaf ears.

One must ask the question of where the reported £7.5m came from to sign a player who cannot get a seat on the bench.

If you believe foreign reports, there are rumours that the club’s Chinese owners are prepared to give the incoming manager, whoever that may be, significant purchasing power in the upcoming January transfer window.

And if there are funds available, I plead with Reading FC to finally listen to their faithful supporters, and sign that elusive centre forward.