As Reading fans prepare for an off-field battle against the unpopular hierarchy, we looked back to 40 years ago when the club were on the brink of extinction.

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Thames Valley Royals

A tale well told down the generations, the Royals were in a similarly scary position four decades ago as they find themselves in today.

Struggling toward the foot of the Third Division as the end of the 1982/83 season was in sight, media mogul Robert Maxwell had a cunning plan.

As owner of Oxford United, and shareholder of Reading, the former owner of the Daily Mirror revealed plans to merge the U's and the Royals- move to a new stadium in Didcot and form 'Thames Valley Royals.'

Unsurprisingly, this was met with extreme anger on both sides of the rivalry and immediately plans were put into place to fight against it.

Oxford United fans invaded the pitch before their game against Wigan Athletic at the Manor Ground, holding the game up for over half an hour.

Ironically, the two sides met on the pitch while the off-field battle rumbled on, supporters joining together to protest against Maxwell before the game.

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It was Maurice Evans' struggling Royals who came out on top on the field, winning 2-0. The campaign would still end in relegation to Divison Four.

Reading fans marched through the streets of the town with a coffin to mark the passing of the football club in their main protest, but it was the actions of a former player who proved crucial.

It transpired that the-then chairman, Frank Waller, did not own enough controlling shares for Maxwell to buy out and was handed an injunction by shareholder Roy Tranter-forbidding the transfer of shares to until May.

Within just a matter of weeks Mr Waller resigned, with his shares returning to the football club. 

Former forward Roger Smee took over and the 1980s continued to be a bumpy decade, returning the club to the third tier at the first attempt and reaching Division Two by 1986.

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Wembley glory in the 1988 Simod Cup was to follow, as was a return to the third tier, before Sir John Madejski took over in 1990 and took the club to even greater heights.

It remains to be seen what comes of this latest off-field battle facing the club, but for all concerned we can hope that it has the same outcome as the 1983 Thames Valley Royals proposal.