Palace step up their pre-season preparations by taking on Championship opposition in Reading on Saturday afternoon at 3pm. Here is everything you need to know about our next friendly opponents.
What is their history?
Reading were formed on Christmas Day 1871 and in 1986 they moved to Elm Park having turned professional a year earlier. In 1920 they were elected into the Football League, and in 1946 they recorded their record win at Palace’s expense by a 10-2 scoreline.
Having been dogged with rumours they would merge with Oxford United to form Thames Valley Royals in the mid-1980s, in 1988 Reading won the Simod Cup (later to be the Zenith Data Systems Cup) but they dropped into the third tier that same season, however John Madejski’s takeover in 1991 helped the club recover and gradually rebuild.
After a couple of near misses in reaching the Premier League in the mid-1990s, under Steve Coppell’s management they finally reached the top-flight in 2006 by winning the Championship with a record 106 points.
They spent two seasons in the Premier League under Coppell – one of which saw them finish eighth – but have only spent one further season at that level in 2012/13, coming closest to a return when they were beaten by Huddersfield Town in the 2017 Championship play-off final.
Having previously guided Reading to within a penalty shootout of reaching the Premier League in his first season in charge, Jaap Stam’s team suffered a hangover in their attempt to go one better and spent virtually the entire 2017/18 campaign towards the foot of the Championship table.
They won only eight of their 38 games before Stam was dismissed in March, who had failed to record a victory in his previous 18 league games. With the club just three points clear of the relegation zone, Paul Clement was swiftly installed as his replacement and claimed two wins and two draws, including a last day stalemate against Cardiff City that secured their Championship status.
This summer so far
Clement has added experience to his squad by snapping up free agents John O’Shea and David Meyler from Sunderland and Hull City respectively, while Ghanaian winger Andy Yiadom was also acquired from Barnsley.
After netting 23 goals in 42 League Two games for Coventry City last season, Marc McNulty was snapped up for an undisclosed fee, as was former Ajax defender Darren Sidoel. On Wednesday, goalkeeper Sam Walker moved from Colchester United to replace Jonathan Bond, who moved to West Bromwich Albion.
Also departing the Madejski Stadium have been Stephen Quinn, Joey van den Berg, Deniss Rakels, Yann Kermorgant and Joseph Mendes, but the Royals have yet to claim victory in any of the pre-season friendlies to date, having lost to Eastleigh and AFC Wimbledon before draws with Fulham, Besiktas and Rubin Kazan.
Where do they play?
Reading have been at the Madejski Stadium since 1998, which was built to a cost of £50 million with a capacity of 24,000. During their stints in the Premier League, the Royals had been granted planning permission to extend this to over 30,000, but those plans were shelved following relegation.
Last season saw Reading average 16,656 for their home games, with their record crowd in the ground being 24,184 for a game against Everton in November 2012.
The stadium is also home to the London Irish rugby union side, and has also hosted five England under-21 internationals as well as an England B game ahead of the 2006 World Cup.
Who is in charge?
After short spells in charge of Derby County and Swansea City, Clement is hoping that he can lay down some roots in Berkshire as he aims to restore Reading to the Premier League.
Having worked his way through the coaching ranks at Chelsea, he was appointed assistant to Carlo Ancelotti in 2009. Impressed with what he saw, the Italian took Clement with him to Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, before his number two left Germany to successfully steer Swansea away from danger in January 2017.
However, Clement was dismissed in December after a poor start to the following campaign, before then repeating his feat at the Liberty Stadium by keeping Reading away from relegation.
Other notable players
There are plenty of familiar faces in the Reading squad who boast a wealth of Premier League experience. Goalkeeper Vito Mannone played for Arsenal and Sunderland in the top-flight, while there is a former Eagle in the Royals’ ranks in Paul McShane.
Long-time Welsh international pair Chris Gunter and David Edwards will be well-known to Wayne Hennessey and Jonny Williams, while Tiago Illori and Tyler Blackett were youngsters at Liverpool and Manchester United respectively. Leandro Bacuna and Madou Barrow possess plenty of pace in attack, which also boasts former Hull and Fulham striker Sone Aluko.
Tickets are on general sale, priced at:
Over 65s: £5
17 and under: £5
Please note that tickets will increase by £2 on the day of the game.
Tickets can be purchased in the following ways: