Former Wycombe Wanderers chief Rob Couhig is reportedly 'closing in' on a deal to take over at Reading, just four months on from controversially attempting to purchase the Royals' training ground for the Buckinghamshire neighbours.

Leaving supporters in two minds over the 75-year-old American, The Reading Chronicle has spoken to supporters and experts at Adams Park on what to expect should the lawyer rock up at the SCL Stadium.

(Image: pa)

Insight from a Chairboys fan and Wycombe Wanderers Supporters Trust member Dan Clark


In the next two weeks, New Orleans lawyer Rob Couhig is expected to take the reins at Reading FC after a turbulent few years at the Berkshire club. Couhig will be familiar to Reading fans after a rather ugly dance between Wycombe Wanderers, Rob’s former club, and Reading during the Bearwood training ground saga, of which Rob was deeply embroiled. But the perceptions of the Reading fans so far is not necessarily a sign of things to come.

Throughout his years at the club, I have had the privilege of speaking to Rob through my capacity as a co-host of the Heroes of HP12 podcast – many Reading fans will be familiar with his interview with us during the Bearwood controversy.

As a fan of Wycombe Wanderers for more than 27 years, and a member of Supporters Trust for a great number of those years, I, along with many of our supporters, can draw the parallels of the struggles faced by both Wycombe and Reading at the point where Rob entered the scene. As Wycombe fans, we've had our struggles to the point of potential oblivion, so we too came from a position of uncertainty and worry before Rob joined.

It’s important to understand the circumstances of Rob joining the club to be able to understand the decisions he made during his tenure.

Setting the Scene
At the time of Rob courting the club, we were owned and ran by the Supporters Trust, and while the values of the club were upheld very well by our custodians, there were many periods of financial instability and, at one point a few years ago, we were facing extinction. The Supporters Trust was put in place to run the club after a rather unsavoury reign from a local businessman (of which we do not speak of – search Steve Hayes, Wycombe and Wasps if you fancy some bedtime reading), which left many Wycombe fans very wary of any sort of ownership beyond the supporters themselves.

If we were to even remain in the Football League, we needed to be more financially sustainable, and that was something that, as a Trust, we could not endure or maintain. Thus, the Supporters Trust announced it was working to bring in new investment and a new owner, and we went through a series of frankly crazy bids, including one from a former player (who set out his manifesto for the club in a pub) and a consortium formed of former players like Dennis Bergkamp, Henrik Larsson, Dirk Kuyt, and current Netherlands manager Ronald Koeman.

Then entered Rob, Missy and Pete, who had recently pulled out of a bid to buy Yeovil. Rob was quite clear in what he wanted to provide the club during his initial engagements – emphasising sustainability - and he immediately put in funds to support us being competitive within League One that season.

One of his core focuses was to improve customer service within the ground, and he set out to work to improve that. Missy worked on the merchandising and club shop, and Pete worked on the finances and some of the sporting decisions. At first, Rob agreed a settling-in period where he would ‘show us what he’s made of’ before he bought and became the owner – as the Supporters Trust had to provide a majority vote to cede the Supporters Trust ownership to Rob. He brought an American-style focus on customer service to try and bring it to the next level. There’s still challenges, but it’s better than what it was before.

Rob won that majority vote, easily. He proved in the short term that he had the club’s best interests at heart and worked to deliver those with actions both on and off the pitch.

What you can expect
If the deal does go through, there are certain things you can expect from the 75-year-old:

  • His club ownership mantra revolves around sustainability – Rob has always been focused on running clubs sustainably, and he has a track record of that here at Wycombe.

    For Reading, he might not be the owner you want right now (ie an owner that will fund you back up to the Premier League) but he will steady the ship and put you in capable hands with an owner that can take you to that next level. In his comms throughout his time at Wycombe, it was always clear that his focus was to make the club sustainable, increase its value and sell it to someone who matches his values of sustainable club operations. He’s done that, and we have an ownership team now that aims to take us to places we’ve never been before, but sensibly.
  • Expect a lot of communication – Rob is a communicator and throughout his time, he has provided a continuous source of updates about what he plans to do, and what he has achieved against what he set out to do – along with learnings he has made as he has navigated the challenging environment that is English football.

    What you will expect, in contrast to the communication you currently see from the current Reading regime, is much more transparent communication and clearly setting out what he aims to achieve.

    This is even during the difficult times, including Bearwood, where he came out and spoke honestly about his experience both to us on the podcast, and through official club channels – giving all fans the opportunity to ask questions about the situation. While many of you doubted his intentions at the time, he has always been open, honest and transparent during his communication with fans – even if it is something we don’t like to hear.

He isn’t afraid to speak his mind either – if he’s frustrated, you’ll know about it.


  • Expect action – but attainable actions – Rob is very calculated in how he operates, so he will complete actions where he knows they are achievable. He often talked the talk, but he walked the walk too.
  • Expect him to make a lot of decisions – some you won’t like – Rob doesn’t wait, he will make decisions that he thinks are right for the club – and there will be some that fans won’t like. You might kick off and disagree with him, but ultimately he is doing what he feels is right for the long term viability and sustainability of the club. There were times where fans and owners locked horns, but ultimately we all had the best interests of Wycombe Wanderers at heart.
  • Expect more approachability – The Couhig's have been the most approachable owners I have experienced in football. He was always willing to work with us on the podcast and liked the fact that we didn’t always agree with him. He liked being challenged and felt it brought good results.

    I’ve heard many fans who have been in email communications with him about improvements at the club and their views, and he’s listened.

    On a personal level, there are many times where I’ve had an opinion, and he has private messaged me to discuss it further. You don’t see that too often.
  • A lot of things will be actioned with a business mind – more from the head than the heart – Many of us have been slightly critical of Rob’s approach at times. His football brain is a bit different to ours and he will take a business approach before anything else, Bearwood being a perfect example of that. It was a phenomenal business opportunity to explore. The nuances of English football however, and the unwritten ‘rules’ around it made others feel differently about how that unfolded. But ultimately, he made a business decision that he felt right – to help Wycombe with a new training ground it desperately needed, and Reading with the assurance that the money would be used to sustain the club.

    His honesty throughout his time with Wycombe, and him fronting up Bearwood through the communications he provided, gave us no reason to doubt his intentions.
  • Expect fireworks – He really likes them. Maybe that’s the American in him. But it’s OK, we always got a result when they were scheduled in.

Ultimately, if Rob does join the club, Reading fans have an owner who cares for sustainability and will steady the ship. Personally, I think this will be a short-term project, where he will make the club sustainable, bring steadiness and calm, and find a buyer that will take the club back to where it came from.

Don’t forget, he has five years experience at another club nearby where mistakes have been made and learnings have been gained.

There will be things Reading fans will disagree with, but they’ll most likely be necessary cost reductions for the long-term sustainability of the club. With the struggles the club finds itself in right now, I’d expect those decisions to be made quickly and I don't think they'll be overly popular ones, but they're a necessity. The key for Reading fans now is to get behind him and support the work he will need to do to get you to where you need to be.

Just remember, he's not Dai...