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Reading Football Club

Industry Sport & Leisure
Head Office Reading
Solution Hosted Exchange


Reading Football Club was established in 1871 and is one of the oldest football clubs in England. Early matches were played in various grounds around Reading before moving to the well-known Elm Park in 1896 – the club’s home for 102 years. In 1998, Reading Football Club moved to Madejski Stadium – an impressive, purpose-built ground with a capacity of 24,242 seats. The club is currently playing in the Barclays Premier League, having secured promotion with its npower Championship triumph in the 2011-2012 season.

In 2011 the club moved its email from an in-house solution to one hosted in the cloud. Matt Neilson, IT Manager, gives us an insight into the reasons behind the move and how Cobweb Hosted Exchange is meeting the email requirements for the stadium, training ground, warehouse and recently refurbished Megastore.

The Challenge

Reading Football Club relies heavily on the use of email for all types of communication. “Email is absolutely vital to Reading Football Club for a number of reasons. First and foremost it enables us to connect with our supporters, whether on an individual basis or through our regular newsletters. In addition, it is essential for our fellow clubs and business customers, and last but not least, as a key internal communication tool,” explained Matt.

Before moving to a hosted Exchange solution, the club stored its email on an in-house Exchange server. At the time there were around 120 employees and only two members of staff to manage the IT for the whole business – Garry Hanson, IT Manager, and Matt, then Support Analyst.

Although having an in-house server had been adequate in the past, it was becoming increasingly difficult to manage the email demands and support requirements. Limited mailbox quotas meant employees’ mailboxes were continually running out of space and with an in-house server that kept failing, Garry and Matt knew they needed to upgrade.

“I was involved in the decision to go hosted and liked the idea of moving to the cloud instead of upgrading our Exchange server in-house. As there were only two of us supporting the IT for over 100 employees, I realised a hosted solution would give us the Exchange expertise and extra email support we simply didn’t have internally,” continued Matt.

Both Garry and Matt knew they could upgrade the server and hardware themselves to fix the problems they were having, but this would entail large upfront costs. They realised if they opted for a hosted solution, they would remove the unnecessary capital expenditure by spreading the costs per user, per month. Happy with their decision, they contacted Cobweb.

The Solution

Making initial contact by enquiring through, Garry quickly received a call from Oliver Nelson, Cobweb Sales Executive, who explained the benefits of hosted Exchange as an email solution. Garry and Matt both liked the idea that Cobweb’s hosted Exchange service came with a customer control panel that would give them total control over their user accounts and limits. It would also offer a scalability solution that would enable the club to increase and decrease mailboxes based on the success of the club. This, matched with Cobweb’s ISO accreditations in security, gave Garry and Matt the confidence to select Cobweb as their hosted services provider.

Matt, now IT Manager for the club, highlighted the range of benefits he receives from Cobweb’s hosted Exchange solution:

“Hosting our email through Cobweb Solutions has made life so much easier. I don’t need to worry anymore about storage, servers or whether or not I need to expand the hardware and software. It really was a 
no-brainer moving to a cloud-based solution.”

He continued, “It’s taken the stress away too. With 24/7 support available with Cobweb, I’m no longer concerned I might get a phone call in the middle of the night to find out the server’s gone down. Knowing that Cobweb has the expertise in Exchange that we don’t have in-house, I can now concentrate on supporting other areas of the business with the peace of mind that our email just works.

“The other benefit I realised was the ease to set-up a new mailbox. It really is just a click of a button now. There’s no longer a need to create .pst files, which has saved me a huge amount of time, and I can now set-up emails on iPhones and iPads too, which is critical to our club as it benefits the management and staff when they’re out on the road.”

The Cobweb Experience

Matt also found the migration experience very straightforward. “I took some migration training so I could move the mailboxes across myself. I did this one department at a time and it only took a week to move them all across. It really was flawless.”

Would Matt recommend Cobweb to others? “Absolutely! Cobweb does what it says on the tin and I couldn’t be more pleased with the service,” replied Matt.

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