Reading are in danger of being blocked from entering the Premier League if they secure promotion this season, it can be revealed.
A proposed Chinese takeover of the club was provisionally cleared by the English Football League last week with businessman Dai Yongge and sister Dai Xiu Li given permission, subject to certain conditions, to buy the Championship promotion-chasers following an EFL board meeting on Thursday.
Yongge failed to acquire Hull City in September amid serious concerns from the Premier League about the way the proposed takeover had been structured.
And although it is understood the deal for Reading has been structured differently – in a way that appears to have satisfied the EFL – the Premier League will not disregard the consortium’s failure to satisfy its misgivings about the doomed Hull buyout during any assessment it conducts of the new owners.
That could lead to the unprecedented situation of a club being denied access to the Premier League if they secure promotion.
Reading, who have been in talks with the Chinese-based consortium since November, are on course to reach the Championship play-offs and will doubtless be seeking clarity on their future before the end of the regular season.
The Premier League and EFL both declined to comment yesterday on the prospect of the club being blocked from going up.
However, an EFL spokesman confirmed the Chinese takeover had been provisionally agreed, saying: “The outstanding matter relating to Reading FC’s change of control application was discussed at length during Thursday’s EFL board meeting.
“The board considered the change of application submitted by the club on behalf Mr Yongge Dai and Miss Xui Li Dai in the context of the relevant EFL regulations.
“The board unanimously determined it would not object to the transaction being completed, subject to the agreement of a number of specific conditions. Authority to conclude matters was delegated to the executive.”
Reading have been owned by the Thai consortium of Lady Sasima Srivikorn, Sumrith Thanakarnjanasuth and Narin Niruttinanon since September 2014.
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However, their enthusiasm for bankrolling the club appears to have waned, despite Jaap Stam’s side being in contention for a promotion that would result in a guaranteed windfall of almost £200 million.
Former Manchester United and Holland defender Stam vented his frustration at the situation during the January transfer window.
“You need to have clarity within the group, a certain structure within the club with what’s going to happen,” he told the BBC.
“What I thought was going to happen when I joined Reading was to build a team and hopefully make steps towards the Premier League.
“But, with the club for sale, you don’t know what the new owners want to do.”
Reading declined to comment on whether they or the consortium would fight any attempt to deny them promotion, saying: "Upon receipt of a letter on Friday from Shaun Harvey, the Chief Executive of the EFL, Reading Football Club can now confirm that an application for a proposed change of control at the club has been conditionally approved. The Club will now spend the coming weeks working diligently with the EFL, our current shareholders and both Mr Yongge Dai and Miss Xui Li Dai to ensure the application meets those specific conditions and all the relevant EFL regulations."