Reading fans believe that the club face a graver threat than the one they faced 40 years ago, when Robert Maxwell attempted to merge the Royals with Oxford United.

Media mogul Maxwell owned shares in both sides and wanted to turn two smaller clubs into a successful team based in nearby Didcot, named Thames Valley Royals.

Causing uproar from both sets of supporters, protests were organised and thousands marched through the streets of Reading before a Division Three match at Elm Park.

Eventually saved by Roger Smee, supporters are gearing up for another march through the town on Saturday as six years of neglectful ownership come to a head.

Unfortunately, supporters believe this situation could be more difficult to avoid than the one in the 1980s.

"It was unthinkable, but we feared it could happen," said Steve Double- a regular match goer at the time and loyal supporter. "There was no social media back then of course, so it was galvanised through word-of-mouth and the local press. I was working in Coventry at the time but always came back for the Saturday home games and knew some of the organisers from travelling to away games.

“I was surprised how big the march was, bearing in mind those days our home crowds were only in the 4,000-5,000 range. I don’t think anyone did a headcount, but it was a significant percentage of our hardcore support. It gave the Saturday lunchtime shoppers in Broad Street a bit of a shock, that’s for sure.

“It felt just as serious then as today’s issue does – but, with hindsight,  this one’s a tougher nut to crack. In terms of money, the stakes are much higher. We’re dealing with a billionaire who seems to regard his investment in our community as loose change and clearly doesn’t care anymore. The days of local businessmen buying their local clubs as an act of philanthropy are long gone – but it was effectively those guys who saved us back in 1983."

Arthur Withers, another who attended the march 40 years ago, labelled it a 'no brainer' to get involved.

He agrees that the situation is much more perilous in 2023 than it was in 1983.

"1983 was never about the demise of the club as such, it was simply about who would be the new owners," he told the Reading Chronicle. "If Roger Smee, or similar, was the first option then no campaign or march would have happened. In mind in those days most fans would struggle to name too many club owners, most were not in the public domain away from local interest and knowledge."

Four decades on and supporters are preparing for the largest demonstration the club have seen since, and both Steve and Arthur are imploring fans to preserve the club for the future.

"If you questioned most fans; a very high percentage would be able to name their first match and were taken by a relative," Mr Withers said. "This is the essence of why 2023 is important, for future generations to have the means to take a child to their first Reading match. Then a new generation is started."

“Come and join us," Steve added. "Imagine how gutted you’ll feel if the club goes under, and you didn’t lift a finger? Besides, two years after the last march we won promotion to the old Division Two, won the Simod Cup three years after that, and the good times rolled again.”