EXCLUSIVE Revealed: Deeply unpopular Chinese billionaire accused of ‘running Reading FC into the ground’ is King Charles’s neighbour – after he added stunning multi-million pound London mansion to his vast property portfolio
- EXCLUSIVE: Chinese multi-billionaire revealed as King Charles III’s neighbour
- Reading FC owner Dai Yongge lives in a luxury mansion by Buckingham Palace
A Chinese multi-billionaire partly responsible for the ongoing demise of one of England’s oldest football clubs is King Charles III’s neighbour, MailOnline can reveal.
Dai Yongge, 55, is better known in the UK as the deeply unpopular owner of the fifth oldest club in the Football League – Reading FC, nicknamed the Royals.
Known by his family as Mr Dai, Reading fans accuse the Chinese retail tycoon of driving the club into the ground, landing them with transfer embargoes and points deductions through poor financial management.
It seems his love of the royals stretches far beyond Reading FC, for MailOnline can reveal Dai lives in a swanky mansion near Buckingham Palace worth nearly £100million.
The elusive tycoon first made his money turning old air raid shelters in China into shopping malls.
Multi-billionaire Dai Yongge, 55, is better known in the UK as the owner of the fifth oldest club in the Football League – Reading FC
MailOnline can reveal the Chinese shopping mall tycoon is King Charles III ‘s neighbour. Pictured: Dai Yongge’s front hallway
This marbled bathroom, which has a bath on a plinth and two separate sinks, is one of nine in his mansion
The stunning pad is worth almost £100million and is close to Buckingham Palace
It has six principal bedrooms, such as this one with a fireplace, and two more for staff
Dai Yongge has been accused of ‘killing’ the club he owns and is rarely seen in Reading. However, after a long day he can enjoy the ten-metre swimming pool on the bottom floor of his London mansion
He is said to have converted more than 30 across 20 cities. His company Renhe Commercial Holdings is currently worth $14.43billion.
Floorplans of his cushy giant home reveal he has eight bedrooms, a spa with a ten-metre swimming pool, sauna, gym, bar and treatment room, a private garage and even a six-person lift to each of the mansion’s seven floors.
Two of the bedrooms in the property are for staff and the mansion also has a whopping nine bathrooms and a courtyard garden.
When MailOnline knocked on Dai’s ornate front door, one of his relatives confirmed he lived there but said the Reading FC owner wasn’t home.
The Chinese multi-billionaire is said to frequent Les Ambassadeurs casino in Mayfair, one of London’s most ‘exclusive and distinguished clubs’.
It is less than a ten-minute drive from his home.
There, he gambles with his wealth, which he made through a variety of mysterious deals.
Reading’s fortunes have spiralled since Dai bought the club in 2017, and with the billionaire searching for a new owner, bills have been left unpaid, landing the Royals with even more points deductions.
Hardworking and loyal fans who spend thousands every year following their team have been left heartbroken – and many place the blame on Dai.
Dai’s attempts to get Reading into the Premier League left the club spending far more than the league’s current regulator, the EFL, allowed.
Currently, the club is losing around £400,000 every week. Yet even though Dai passed the EFL’s test for owners, the EFL has deducted Reading 16 points during Dai’s reign.
It means the Chinese billionaire has cost the club more points than any of the club’s opponents have won in matches against them.
An EFL spokesman told MailOnline that football ownership has ‘a gamble culture’ in which some owners spend large sums of money to try to win promotion. Speaking about the crisis at Reading, he said: ‘This isn’t a good situation for anyone.’
The spokesman added: ‘It might not be a perfect world but we have to take some kind of action.’
Nick Houlton, 33, from pressure group Sell Before We Dai, said ‘it’s been three or four seasons of pain’ for Reading fans like himself. Pictured: The Select Car Leasing Stadium, formerly called the Madejski
Dai Yongge’s six years in charge have seen the team managed by seven managers, including former Manchester United defender Jaap Stam (right, with Dai)
Back in May 2017, Dai was welcomed to Reading as simply the latest Chinese businessman to buy a European football club.
Football finance expert Kieran Maguire told MailOnline that key figures in the Chinese government had suggested hosting the FIFA World Cup as a way to flex China’s muscles on the world stage.
Their plan was for Chinese billionaires to buy European clubs and cosy up to the idea of China being involved in the footballing community.
Yet when Chinese President Xi Jinping took a dislike to the vast sums players were paid, the attraction of owning a European club withered.
Maguire said: ‘There was a view taken by the Chinese government that they wanted to expand influence.
‘When President Xi had a rethink… the desire to encourage buying European clubs diminished.’
‘[Dai has] been successful domestically in China. But the Chinese government effectively [decides if large sums can go out of the country.]’
If China doesn’t approve the money going out, ‘then the money is stuck,’ Maguire said.
However, Dai has still managed to live it up in one of the most extravagant and expensive areas of London.
His Victorian mansion is one of the most exclusive in the world, especially as his neighbour is the King.
Its ceilings are as high as 14ft 5ins and the incredible pad also has five reception rooms and a media room.
One of the mansion’s bedrooms is 2,000 sq ft, making it larger than the average London home.
The mansion also comes with a penthouse with three bedroom suites, a main double reception room, a further reception room, a kitchen/breakfast room and three outdoor terraces.
Dai’s multi-million pound trophy house in the heart of London has a charming dining area
His long hallway and carpeted stairs offer a glimpse into the multi-billionaire’s extravagant lifestyle
The library has plenty of space for books as well as two sofas and a lovely red armchair
The formal dining room has a large wooden table with space for at least ten people
Dai’s ten-metre swimming pool (left) is beside his private gym. The mansion has a whopping seven floors
In his private spa there is a treatment room (left). There is also a sauna for Dai and his family to enjoy (right)
His private gym (pictured) has a large screen and space for multiple machines and weights
These days Yongge is rarely seen at Reading’s home of the Select Car Leasing stadium, formerly called the Madejski.
In Reading, which is a little more than 40 miles away from Dai’s luxury home, the football club is facing administration.
Football finance expert Maguire said: ‘If it gets put into administration, [the new owner] wouldn’t have to deal with debts but there’s a 12-point deduction and a potential 15-point deduction [when the club comes out of it].
‘[Dai has] put a lot of money in [the club]. He’s been advised by people focusing on self-interest rather than the interests of the club.
‘Super agents cosy up to [owners] and assist in recruitment, benefiting them rather than the club.’
The involvement of Dai’s friend and super agent Kia Joorabchian in some of Reading’s transfers prompted fans to voice concern.
Reading fans’ protests against the club’s poor management have been ramping up in the last few weeks, from halting matches by throwing tennis balls on the pitch to marching to the stadium
Nick Houlton, 33, is part of Sell Before We Dai, a group of fans pressuring the Chinese billionaire to sell Reading. He said Yongge was ‘killing the club’
On learning about Yongge’s luxury mansion, Nick said: ‘It’s quite concerning that he has such a big property. That money could go to funding the club’
He added: ‘It’s disgraceful that he’s got a club that is paying wages late. ‘It’s not right to let us rot while you live this lavish lifestyle’
Last year, the club’s football operations chief Mark Bowen assured fans that Iranian-British super agent Joorabchian had no power in the club, even if the owner valued his opinions.
Yet to the relief of many football fans, on Tuesday, Dai’s neighbour King Charles announced in his speech opening Parliament: ‘Legislation will be brought forward to safeguard the future of football clubs for the benefit of communities and fans.’
This will likely be in the form of an independent regulator for the entire football pyramid, including the Football League and Premier League.
Football finance expert Maguire said a regulator could act as a deterrent for untested owners and Reading could well be ‘a good test case’.
It’s a view many Reading fans agree with.
Nick Houlton, 33, is part of Sell Before We Dai, a group of fans pressuring Dai Yongge to sell Reading.
Fan protests against the club’s poor management have been ramping up in the last few weeks, from halting matches by throwing tennis balls on the pitch to marching to the stadium.
On Tuesday, Dai Yongge’s neighbour King Charles announced in his speech opening Parliament: ‘Legislation will be brought forward to safeguard the future of football clubs for the benefit of communities and fans.’ Pictured: Reading fans protesting outside their stadium
Nick said he was hopeful that an independent regulator would help football clubs and their fans avoid the ‘traumatic circumstances the likes of Reading, Southend, Morecambe and others have had to endure in recent years’
Nick added that fans needed to be involved in how the regulator was governed and suggested Reading should be the test case for the new body. Pictured: Reading fans throw tennis balls on the pitch to halt a match in protest of the ownership
Houlton said he was hopeful that an independent regulator would help football clubs and their fans avoid the ‘traumatic circumstances the likes of Reading, Southend, Morecambe and others have had to endure in recent years’.
He said fans needed to be involved in how the regulator was governed and suggested Reading should be the test case for the new body.
However, Houlton told MailOnline that at the moment, Dai Yongge was ‘killing the club’.
On learning about Yongge’s luxury mansion, Nick said: ‘It’s quite concerning that he has such a big property. That money could go to funding the club.
‘It’s disgraceful that he’s got a club that is paying wages late.
‘It’s not right to let us rot while you live this lavish lifestyle.’
He added: ‘He needs to sell. We want a sustainable owner. We are falling back fast.
‘We are trying to get through the season. Results haven’t been good on the pitch either.
‘There’s a very good chance [we will be relegated into League Two.]
‘We have a three transfer window ban. We are probably going to have to start again and head into the National League at some point.’
Nick said the club was ‘massive for the community’.
He added: ‘It’s uplifting. It’s the only Football League club in Berkshire. I’m from Maidenhead but Reading’s always been my club.
Reading FC’s accounts show the club has borrowed more than £400million since Dai bought the club
The last time Reading had an operating profit was in 2017. Since then it has had losses of up to £41.9million
‘It makes or breaks your weekend. It’s been three or four seasons of pain.
‘It’s people’s lives and livelihoods.
‘If you’re struggling with mental health and your football club is your escapism then it’s adding fuel to the fire.’
Asked what he would tell Dai Yongge, Nick said: ‘It’s time to go now. We are in England. Football is our lives.
‘We know you have given it a go and it didn’t work out. Sell the club to the right person.’
However, it’s not all doom and gloom for Reading.
BBC Radio Berkshire Sports Editor Tim Dellor has commentated on Reading FC matches for more than a decade and is adoringly known as ‘the voice of Reading football’.
Although the club is going through a tough time and Dellor said what is happening off the pitch ‘clearly impacted’ the players, he said they were being ‘stoic about it’.
In an admission that is likely to please many Reading fans, Dellor said former CEO Nigel Howe and ex-owner Sir John Madejski were two of many people connected to the club who are ‘trying to bring people to the table’.
Dellor said various US consortiums, as well as former Newcastle owner Mike Ashley, were interested in buying the club.
He said: ‘There’s a sale being put together. There’s no shortage of people trying to get links going.
‘Everyone is desperate for things to change.’
EFL Chief Executive Trevor Birch said: ‘This is a challenging situation and we understand the frustrations of supporters and the negative impact sporting sanctions and further charges are having on the football club.
‘As a League, we are required to ensure all 72 members are treated fairly and consistently on all matters so that the integrity of the competition is maintained.
‘These consistent failures of the club’s ownership to meet its ongoing obligations have a knock-on effect on all clubs and the deterrents in place must be actioned when breached.’
MailOnline has contacted Dai Yongge and Reading FC for comment.
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