Reading Town players planned strike action over unpaid expenses

reading town badgeREADING Town players have come close to “striking” after a row over money with the club’s owners.

In a week where manager Stuart Plumridge resigned, players were planning to refuse to play against Brimscombe & Thrupp last Saturday after claiming they had not received any expenses since before Christmas.

But a late payment from owners, the Battersea & Wandsworth Trade Union Council Trading, appeased the players sufficiently and the majority took to the Scours Lane pitch. They lost 3-2 but gave a spirited performance.

Club chairman Kevin Brandstatter has since assured the players they will be paid – but only for legitimate expenses.

He revealed BWTUC had originally given the team a weekly budget, but their auditors told them to change the practice, and only reimburse players for receipted and signed out-of-pocket expenses.

Brandstatter said: “The first claims were received in February and they will be paid a month later following normal BWTUC procedures. To avoid fraudulent claims I was required to check and validate each of them.

“In a business like ours, it is not possible to receive a claim one day and pay it a day or two later.”

He added: “The club do not pay players’ wages. If we did then the HMRC would be asking questions, and not just about this season, but previous seasons as well.”

Brandstatter estimated the club’s expenditure each week is between £500 and £600 more than their income. The shortfall is being met by donations from BWTUC which he said will continue.

BWTUC took over the club last summer, but were shocked by the amount of debts left them by the previous directors. They also faced extra bills of renovating the pitch, along with repairs to the car park and floodlights.

The GMB (trade union) Southern Region came on board as sponsors, but once again the club struggled to find other backers. Poor results on the pitch failed to generate extra income and each home game incurs a loss once match officials, bar staff and the programme printers have been paid.

Club officers have been forced to dig into their own pockets to keep the team going, but the chairman says they will all be reimbursed in time.

The club’s CEO Natalie Newby, who works for BWTUC, revealed discussions have taken place about closing the club down. However, Brandstatter appears to have calmed the storm by informing Town that BWTUC will continue to keep the club afloat for this season and next. But he warned changes will need to be made to make them more self sufficient.




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