Middlesbrough Supporters Forum……Meeting 26
Held at Middlesbrough FC. Riverside Stadium, Middlesbrough-7pm. Feb. 11th 2019.
In attendance were :-
Christopher Joseph Chair / President – M.S.F.
Peter Hodgson Secretary – M.S.F.
Caroline Walker Diversity & Equality – M.S.F.
Rob Nichols Fly Me to the Moon Fanzine
Paddy Cronesberry, MBE. MDSA
John Donovan Twel2th Man – Apologies for absence sent
Jimmy Wilson MOSC
Dave Roberts RedArmy.TV
Mark Motley MSS
Representative Red Faction group
David Joyes Middlesbrough FC
Yvonne Ferguson Middlesbrough FC
Invited guests :- We welcomed Jill Atkinson & Harry Greenmon both season card holders & MOSC members
Per normal practice, after circulation to all parties by e-mail, the minutes of meetings 25 were accepted as read.
Matters arising from previous meeting:
Foodbank – YF & CW
Yvonne informed us that Peter Hall, the MFC Bar & Concourse Manager who was due to give us an update has had to cancel at short notice but would be available to report to us at the March meeting. We asked YF to please confirm that for the next agenda.
Yvonne confirmed that the FOODBANK event has been confirmed for the QPR game on 23rd Feb. at our usual site. All MSF member groups were asked to publicise the event through their usual channels and encourage as much support as possible for this vital and worthy cause.
Concourse Heating – CJ
David Joyes has been in contact with Derby County FC following last months discussion in the Forum. He has received more info re- installation and capital costs, running costs – and with their extension of catering facilities due to longer “dwell-time” at the ground with earlier arrivals of more people, there have been healthy increases of fans spend whilst on the concourses. They have also invested in more variations on food offered via more outlet kiosks giving greater choice to fans. David confirmed that MFC will be looking to attend the proposed “INVITATION to see how the Heating System works” event to be held soon at pride Park.
A good result, so far, of our original work on this potential improvement for fans!!
Safe Standing – Visit to Celtic. – CJ & PH
CJ & PH made a short “power-point” show of their trip to Celtic Park. Local MP and Shadow Minister for Transport, Andy McDonald accompanied them. We were invited to Celtic Park by John Paul Taylor, the Supporters Liaison Officer. The presentation showed all the features of their SAFE STANDING AREA that we had previously discussed. The pathways, steps, style of seating, easier & safer experience for a standing person in a DESIGNATED SPACE, simpler & easier access all round, gives excellent viewpoint & encourages great atmosphere. As a DEFINED STANDING ONLY AREA, FANS DO NOT STAND IN OTHER SEATED AREAS NOW. STEWARDS now experience NO confrontational incidents and in the STANDING area, it is so much easier to control fans, that fewer stewards are now require in that area. The barriers-in front & behind each space, has eliminated all incidents of crushing or pushing. In fact, there has NOT BEEN A SINGLE INCIDENT OR INJURY IN THAT AREA SINCE INTRODUCTION 3 SEASONS AGO.
CELTIC FC replaced traditional seating with 3,000 of the safe standing seat units in the same area. Cost was almost the same for old or new seats -£400,000 which equates to approx. £133 per unit. John Paul also pointed out that access to the area is for season card members only. Their personal season card is monitored with an automated hand scanner at the entrance to the area. Season card holders (over 18) can be accompanied by Junior Season Card holders at all games. There is a scale of reduced prices for the Juniors. CELTIC FA plan to replace the hand-held scanners soon with a proper auto-gate turnstile – as we have at the Riverside. They are also planning to extend Safe Standing to a dedicated AWAY FANS area in the very near future.
The major points we took away from the visit – were of comfort – ease of access and surroundings – INCREASED enjoyment – TERRIFIC old-style atmosphere – and one of TOTAL SAFETY. No pushing or shoving across steps and passageways or people shoving from behind. These things DO NOT NOW HAPPEN. Our overall impression of the day was one of “WE MUST TAKE THIS ON BOARD IN THE Premiership & the Championship as soon as we can”. It is a GREAT step forward & in no way representative of “old style terraces” which was one of the main issues behind the change in legislation to COMPULSORY fences & ALL SEATING after the TAYLOR report. Times have changed, technology is now available to offer supporters and clubs a genuine improvement and change for the better.
Andy McDonald has since submitted a very positive & supportive letter to the Minister for Sport, Mims Davies, encouraging her to get behind the “safe standing seats” campaign – and deliver a great change to providing increased safety measures and a better experience for the whole of FOOTBALL.
A good exchange of Questions & Answers followed. All members and guests commented and genuinely felt it had been a very worthwhile experience – and good knowledge which enables us to keep pushing the powers in football – TO ACT !
John Paul Taylor also provided us with some costings which we passed on to David Joyes and he also offered to provide any further info to MFC, if requested.
On our journey to Glasgow, we discussed with Andy McDonald the concept we had discussed in MSF of a SPORTSFANS RAILCARD for “discounted Travel Plans” – linking to the ideas we have touched on previously about encouraging Rail Travel opportunities for fans. As the SHADOW Minister for TRANSPORT, Andy is an important link for future talks on this idea and is an excellent contact for assistance. He was VERY interested and fully embraced and understood our ideas & concept of the card. The issue is whether the Rail Networks will also feel the same about our SPORTSFANS CARD. It was obvious that Andy WILL give us every assistance possible. Definitely a positive cause to keep on following up. The Safe Standing Presentation can be viewed on MSF website from 21st. Feb.
GENERAL COMMENTS on this issue –
MM & RedFaction also mentioned that Spurs, Wolves & Crystal Palace have announced immediate plans to introduce this and EVERTON have applied for planning permission for a new stadium (ready 2021/22) which will include plans for Safe Standing areas for both HOME and AWAY fans.
Media reviews – CW-DR-CJ
With all the info about Derby County heating system and the Safe Standing over the last few weeks, we issued statements to all our local media channels & received excellent coverage along with photographs. Dave & Chris also gave talks on local radio & there were comments on local TV. All good, positive support for our initiatives.
CW mentioned that our “social media” hits and profiles were our highest ever figures following these two announcements. Good news indeed.
On-going issues – YF.
Yvonne gave brief updates on the following issues requiring MFC progression
Riverside Identity – scheduled for longer term discussion
Big Screen issues – New digital improvements should be in place for start of next season
Boro App Phone issues still under investigation. Several options under consideration.
Stand /Bar names – Long term issues but still on the agenda
Wheelchair access in concourses is an ongoing problem with design of stadium but will always be considered for improvement if the possibility arises.
BOTH ISSUES WERE DISCUSSED. It was agreed that we would support a general fund-raising campaign and split proceeds 50/50. Just Giving campaign and Go Fund Me systems were considered. It was suggested that we look at a “GO FUND ME “campaign from NOW until the end of season 2019/2020.
PADDY then suggested that as the MDSA target is expected to take a longer term -and more importantly – that PARKY’s campaign is desperate to find URGENT FUNDS to maintain his health – he would step back to allow us ALL to campaign immediately solely for Gary’s needs. A nice gesture from Paddy which was unanimously accepted – and we promised Paddy that we would re-assess the situation at start of 2019/2020 season. Details of how and what we need to do to operate such a scheme will be started immediately.
All groups will be notified of what actions were needed asap. CW and DR said they would commence the CROWD funding pages immediately. Updates to follow asap.
Leeds United Fans – Support for LUKE. – DR
DR suggested it would be good to write to LUFC to pass onto their fans, our appreciation that they joined with Boro fans at last weeks “Applause for LUKE” in memory of his tragic death. All in favour. DR will write to LEEDS Utd FC.
PYROTECHNICS at Leeds Utd game: CJ.
Following the incidents in North & South stands at Leeds game – CJ asked David JOYES to clarify on possible OFFICIAL sanctions from FA.
DJ explained that the club was yet to receive the referee’s report and was unable to comment on this specific incident. Generally, the FA are able to impose sanctions on clubs, depending on the severity of the incident.”
INVITED GUESTS for this evening – comments.
Jill Atkinson and Harry Greenmon – both long-standing Boro fans and season ticket holders – and members of MOSC joined us for tonight’s meeting. Both were seemingly united in their comments of watching the MSF in action tonight.
They were impressed with the many different issues discussed and with the interaction between MFC and the MSF member groups.
Both said it was easy to see the benefits of the relationship – which can only be helpful for everyone with the good of MFC and Boro supporters at heart – for fans to have such a platform as MSF.
PLEASE REMEMBER TO PROMOTE THE FOODBANK COLLECTION – 23rd February, before the QPR match. All volunteers welcome.
There being no further business to discuss, CJ thanked everyone for their support and closed the meeting at 8.45pm.
Next meeting is scheduled for 7pm on Monday 11th March, at the Riverside.