Held at Middlesbrough F.C. – Riverside Stadium, Middlesbrough @7pm.12th March 2018.
Attendees were :-
Caroline Walker Chair – Middlesbrough Supporters Forum
Peter Hodgson Secretary – Middlesbrough Supporters Forum
Christopher Joseph President – Middlesbrough Supporters Forum
David Roberts RedArmy TV
Paddy Cronesberry, MBE. MDSA
Rob Nichols Fly Me to The Moon Fanzine
Representative Red Faction Fans Group
Mark Motley Middlesbrough Supporters South
Mark Ellis Middlesbrough FC.
Yvonne Ferguson Middlesbrough FC.
Apologies were received from:- John Donovan – Twe12thMan Group
Diane Schofield – MOSC
We were joined by an observer Dave Rose from Sunderland Supporters group. He sits on the FSF National Group Task Force.
Per normal practice, after circulation to all parties by e-mail, the minutes of meeting 13 were accepted as read.
Extra agenda item – for information & clarification purposes. ( MFC Catering ).
Further to several issues being raised at previous meeting in relation to on-going problems re- catering kiosks, bars etc. we were given a short briefing from Shauna Robb and Peter Hall from MFC Catering Operations who manage all the kiosks and bars on the concourses.
Their aim was to brief us regarding the new systems that had been put in place last summer to hopefully provide a smoother and speedier service to the Boro fans around the concourses. More staff had been introduced to bring more experience to the system. Research into statistics about buying & eating habits was being carried out. All had been examined and provided statistics which are used to make the system as effective as possible and one which is aimed to deliver a better product as quickly as possible with fewer, shorter, waiting times.
Details of new equipment and suppliers which provided better quality & presentation of foodstuffs were outlined. A system of fewer actual cooking points but larger & better ones which serviced more outlets is now in place. This involved the need for better communication between the actual selling and supplying points & there had been issues at busier times or pinch points in the system.
The system is STILL in the process of being improved and refined and that will continue into the summer ready to go for the new season. Issues were raised including people queuing 10 minutes for a burger /chips/pie at Half Time get to front of queue to be told “sorry mate – none left”.
In the bar areas, similar problems with certain types of beers running out by half time or not being poured quickly enough when busy. Suggestions re-specific BOTTLED BEER BARS or HOTDOG stalls only or SWEET STALLS only. A request to formulate a SPECIFIC MINIMUM drinking time AFTER the game in the bars that are open. IN some bars there have been reports of Stewards asking fans to leave only 10 mins after the final whistle. Suggested a minimum of 15 – 20 or 30 minutes OR when no queues at the bar. All these points are still part of on-going thoughts from MFC and hopefully will HELP to improve the service to fans around the Riverside Stadium.
Mark suggested that it may be a good idea to pick a few regulars at some of the bar areas to act as small focus groups who relay facts of what is happening in their bars back to the Club. He will consider doing this.
This discussion gave us all a good insight into what was going on in the club – and we all were impressed to realise that on most things, Boro still had their eye on the ball but our suggestions and reports had given them food for thought. It was encouraging that they took these issues on board and promised to act where possible. Caroline thanked them for their time to come in and explain these points so that we could relate the answers to our members.
Matters arising from minutes of meeting 13.
1) Foodbank Event: (CW/YF)
The meeting opened with Caroline reading a lovely letter from Saroush at the Middlesbrough Foodbank thanking everyone for all the hard work that was put in before the Reading match. He confirmed that we had collected 805kg of food towards the foodbank. We also collected over £550 from other generous supporters. MOSC donated over £200 worth of all sorts of food and we later received a donation of £200 from the Middlesbrough Supporters South.
Caroline and Yvonne had discussed the possibility of holding another Foodbank event but match date events before the end of this season are a bit congested so it was suggested we prepare things well in advance over the summer and look to find a date early on in the new season.
CW will liaise with Soroush at the Foodbank to find out what type of goods they most need and we can target these to arrange our next collection accordingly.
2) Business Cards: (PH)
Peter H has ordered the Business Cards and they will be with us shortly and distributed at the next meeting.
3) Update on Rail Seating (aka Safe Standing).
Peter had prepared a summary sheet from the informal discussion we had on 5th March with Jon Darch which was copied to everyone present. It was a long meeting and some issues were discussed at great length, so it was thought best for us to take this forward with Jon’s support as soon as we can. We will then report back to our Member groups and inform Boro fans when some really positive progress has been achieved. It offers a very important opportunity to all clubs and fans to benefit from and increase safety in stadiums and to ask for his support in our efforts.
Fan Zone event – Notts Forest game – 7th April – Mela at the Match
Yvonne informed us that MFC were working closely with Boro Fusion and Freebrough Academy and things were going really well for this event .The objective was to encourage people from the BAME community to attend games at the Riverside and to bring the community closer together. All groups were asked to give as much publicity as possible to this and to offer any support needed on the day.
Grand Central Railways – EXTRA TRAINS requested: (PH)
In the light of little or no response from GCR re- our “group travel” initiative, PH suggested we enlist the help of an MP to open a few doors for us to explore our original idea.
Captain COOK – 250th Anniversary – August 2018. (RN)
Rob suggested could we look to do some events around the GRFZ this July / August based on the 250th Anniversary of Capt. Cook’s expedition on “H.M.Bark Endeavour”.
It’s a GREAT opportunity to celebrate one of the region’s most famous son’s. It was suggested that we could investigate if we could bring the “scaled down” version of the “Endeavour” that once hung in the Cleveland Centre back into use for a while.
RN, YF, DR, PH and CW all offered help. A meeting needs to be arranged asap.
Update on concessionary ticket abuse: (ME)
CONCESSION ABUSE AT THE RIVERSIDE
STATEMENT BY MFC FOR THE MIDDLESBROUGH SUPPORTERS FORUM
March 12th 2018
Middlesbrough Football Club offers significantly reduced prices for the younger, older and disabled supporter groups for season cards and matchday tickets. Over the past few years the number of occasions when this offer has been abused has been monitored by matchday stewards and ticket office staff. Initial efforts to reduce the frequency of abuse did not have the desired effect. The Club took the decision to impose a fixed 6 match suspension of any concessionary season card or ticket purchasing account when a season card or match ticket is found to have been used incorrectly. The suspension is specifically for the card or ticket purchasing account and not the owner. The number of incidents is in excess of 100 per season. It is important to note that according to the terms and conditions of purchase,
All season cards are non-transferable without club approval and it is the responsibility of the owner to ensure that the cards or any tickets purchased through their account, are used correctly. We therefore encourage all owners of concessionary season cards or purchasers of concessionary match tickets, to ensure that their cards or tickets are used correctly. If an upgrade is required, the Club can be contacted on line or by phone to facilitate the changes as necessary.
Any Other Business
ME responded to a number of threads on FMTTM message boards – however it was reinforced at the meeting that fans should email email@example.com in the first instance as the vast majority can be responded to quickly
Q. Club delivery charges are horrendous and the structure makes no sense
A. We disagree. MFC charges are in fact lower than or comparable to other Championship Clubs and also leading sports retailers for both standard and express deliveries. In addition, we offer a free Click & Collect service. The structure is based around a £10 order value that was intended to reflect the courier / postal charges linked to the weight of the items. We accept that this is not always correct and does not always reward higher spend. We will review this and our current level of £100 spend for free delivery.
Q. iFollow match streaming service availability
A. MFC decided not to subscribe to the EFL Digital service, iFollow based on a lack of clear financial justification. The current iFollow system is single camera only and is officially restricted to overseas supporters only for a limited number of games. There are changes planned for the 2018/19 season and MFC are reviewing these at the present time.
Q. People falling near Row 30 in Block 68
A. The steps have been inspected once again and are confirmed as being within the correct dimensions. MFC staff and also a CCTV camera was positioned to monitor supporters ascending the steps at the Barnsley game. There were no slips or trips observed or reported.
Q. Availability of free wifi
A. There are no wifi systems that could function effectively in a stadium such as the Riverside with our level of attendances and which would be economically viable. Recent attempts at other clubs have failed. MFC continue to monitor the technical developments. The MFC Official App has data networking functionality that will provide most of the information that fans seek on match days.
Q. More ballboys / girls
A. This is an area that has received a focus this season and we believe improvements have been made. The situation and performance will continue to be monitored.
Q. Why is there a £2.50 charge for ticket purchases?
A. This is a booking fee and reflects charges the Club pays for processing tickets. This charge is incurred for all on-line transactions. The Club believe that the charge is reasonable in comparison to other booking fees. We also believe that it is better to make these fees transparent rather than absorb them into the season card or match ticket price. It should be noted that the charge is the same for all tickets processed in a single transaction.
Q. What is the reason for an 0844 number to call the Club Ticket Office?
A. The 0844 number is used for new purchases of season cards, tickets or retail. The charges are minimised and help to offset Club sales administration charges. Supporter questions or queries on existing purchases or services should be directed by email to firstname.lastname@example.org and an MFC staff member will respond or by phone to one of the Supporter Services team during office hours. The contact numbers are available on the Club website in the Supporter Services section.
Q. Timing of the pre-match light show and more half time scores from other matches.
A. The Club will seek the views of Season Card Holders on this and other aspects of the matchday experience as part of a comprehensive survey during the close season.
Q. Availability of a history section in the Club website
A. Unfortunately, due to other priorities with the new site we were unable to launch the history section as planned and we apologise for the delay. This is now planned in for the summer of 2018 when we hope to be able to showcase our history in even greater detail, using added imagery and archive match footage.
Q. Can Home Supporters Coaches get a priority to exit the stadium car parks?
A. The standard procedure for MFC and indeed at most football grounds is to prioritise the departure of the Away coaches. The process at the Riverside results in them arriving via Dockside Road and then departing via Shepherdson Way. These are then followed by cars parked in Car Parks B, C and D. This has proven to be the most efficient and effective arrangement. Home coaches arrive at the Riverside relatively late and are parked in Car Park E. Departure from Car Park E is only possible by turning East on Cargo Fleet after pedestrian traffic has reduced to an acceptable level. Turning West onto The Leeway would result in further conflict with pedestrian traffic and also other vehicles exiting the stadium. MFC provide the parking free of charge to the Home coaches and regard the current arrangements as acceptable.
Q. Introduction of a pop-up retail shop on match days.
A. This was done with good success at the last game – a good suggestion. Thanks.
There being no further business, Caroline thanked everyone for their attendance and closed the meeting at 8:40pm.
Next meeting scheduled at MFC offices on Monday 9th April, at 7.00pm.