Middlesbrough Supporters Forum – Meeting 2
Held at RedArmy.TV’s offices at BOHO 5, Bridge Street East, Middlesbrough, at 7pm Monday 6th March, 2017.
Attendees were :-
Chris Joseph (Chairperson – pro-tem.) Middlesbrough Supporters Forum
Peter Hodgson (Secretary – pro-tem.) Middlesbrough Supporters Forum
Paddy Cronesberry, MBE Middlesbrough Disabled Supporters Association
Rob Nichols Fly Me To The Moon Fanzine
John Donovan The Twe12th Man Supporters Group
Leigh Fisher Middlesbrough Official Supporters Club
David Roberts RedArmy.TV – Sports Media Group
Representative Red Faction Fans Group
Kate Grace … (via SKYPE TV link) Middlesbrough Supporters South
We were also joined by Mark Ellis, Paul Dews and Yvonne Ferguson on behalf of Middlesbrough FC.
The meeting opened and all were welcomed by Chris Joseph, who gave a brief outline of an interview he gave to Premier League TV as to the ongoing situation at MFC re- league position and upcoming FA Cup tie. Chris explained that the interview was given in his role as a Boro football fan and an ex-Chairman of the Middlesbrough Official Supporters Club. He pointed out that as had been mentioned in meeting 1, any comments made by himself in his current post as Chairman of the MSF would be solely on points raised and discussed in the Forum. However, as in a case such as this, he was asked to comment as a “supporter” and would always be aware to keep his “two sides” completely independent from each other.
At this point, Chris read out the proposed DRAFT of the MSF Constitution document which had been circulated to all members beforehand. Members discussed this issue very briefly and as there were no objections, it was agreed that we adopt this document as the FORMAL CONSTITUTION of MSF from this day, 6th FEBRUARY 2017.
Proposer :- C.Joseph. Seconded :- Paddy Cronesberry, MBE.
At this point, CJ introduced a lady named Caroline Walker. Caroline is a Boro Fan of about 50 years, season ticket holder for most of that time from Ayresome Park to the Riverside. We were aware of the fact that we do not have, as yet, a female member of the group. CJ pointed out that, further to some news articles over the last few years pointing out that MFC do have one of the largest percentages of female fans of all the League clubs, it was possibly the proper thing to do but invite a woman to join the group to hopefully lend a different perspective to the issues discussed. Caroline gave a brief summary of her background in local business and of what interests and talents she has to offer the MSF. After a general chat amongst Caroline and members, Chris proposed that under the ORGANISATION / Rule 2 of the Constitution we invite Caroline Walker to join the MSF. The proposal was made by CJ and seconded by Paddy C and supported by all members. Chris warmly welcomed CW to the Forum and looked forward to her contributions.
Minutes of Meeting 1.
These were read by CJ, discussed briefly and agreed.
Proposer:- CJ Seconded by :- Paddy C.
Matters arising from minutes of meeting 1.
A). SEASON TICKET PRICES.
The Forum opened this issue with a general feeling of “well done” to MFC and a vote of confidence for
the way the pricing of season tickets for 2017/2018 had been set. It appeared that many fans had voiced concerns over increasing prices in these very tough financial times but MFC had done well to hold prices all round and there was widespread acceptance that most fans were genuinely pleased with the offers for next season. Mark Ellis explained further the whole reasoning behind MFC thinking on things like Season Ticket and normal pricing and felt that the Club had been fair all round with their new season initiatives.
Mark Ellis also added that all the points we had mentioned in mtg. 1 were general points at issue every year but MFC have always tried to be as competitive as they can be with prices. A suggestion was made that perhaps the MSF could offer some further insight into supporter’s views or suggestions for next season prices to MFC. Mark said that he was happy for our views to be made known but he could not guarantee anything from those views.
John Donovan brought up an “on-going” query re- pricing issues for a concession that was given to younger fans reaching the age of 16 and therefore becoming liable to higher priced tickets. MFC introduced a scheme to discount tickets for younger fans into the South stand and John asked whether it could be introduced into both end stands. Mark Ellis explained the Club’s reasoning behind this initiative and re-iterated that it had to be a “ONE-OFF” concession for people in limited financial groups and it could not be extended further.
RED FACTION representative asked again about the “£100 deposit against advance purchasing of tickets” idea. Would MFC still be willing to discuss this. Mark Ellis said he would try to take it for further discussions with the Club.
- B) CLARITY ON SAFE STANDING.
After discussions in mtg. 1, Chris Joseph had approached the aide to local Stockton MP, Alex Cunningham to see if we could have a meeting with him re- this subject. Mr Cunningham will not be available for a couple of weeks but CJ thought we should take things a little further before we approach the MP.
Rob Nichols mentioned that two very important surveys were conducted in 2016 by the fans at Liverpool FC and Manchester United FC via the Football Supporters Fans organisation- which were then discussed at FA Level. Peter Hodgson suggested to Rob that he contacts either the fans groups involved or the FSF and try to obtain copies of these reports. Having this information to hand would, again, strengthen our hand when approaching Mr Cunningham – and perhaps make our approach into a NORTH EAST CLUBS joint venture including NUFC and SAFC and to enlist the support of ALL MPs in the North East region.
Rob agreed to do this and report back next meeting.
- C) AWAY TRAVEL (Coaches and Trains)
First comments came from Mark Ellis who had some “good news” following on this discussion from last month. He has taken our comments on board and revised his “rationale“ for pricing structure after discussions with his travel manager at the Club and also with his Coach Operators.
This has led to a reduction in coach seat prices starting with the Swansea game and also a larger reduction in the price differential between adult and junior prices from £2.50p to £5.00p. An excellent result and thanks went to Mark Ellis and MFC for rapid re-assessment of one of our travellers issues from last month.
Mark also informed us that since last month, he has already held talks with VIRGIN Trains about the many different anomalies and pricing issues between football travellers and rail prices and last minute amendments.
Many of the points we had raised had been discussed by ME and he said that the VIRGIN Rail man was very encouraged by the discussions and seemed very keen to try and solve some of these issues.
We discussed the issue of fans coming up from London MSS and the problems they had with massive rail ticket costs and last minute changes. KATE GRACE from MSS (by SKYPE) mentioned that MSS has over 700 members down there now, with many Season Card holders. PH suggested that we could also look into “train-sharing” with our opponents’ fans who are London area residents as we did in the 70’s and 80’s. eg…Boro v Stoke at the Riverside. Possibly 100 Boro fans and 50 Stoke fans wish to travel to the Riverside, surely the train operators would be interested in a GROUP discount for 150 fans. That’s a lot of empty seats can be filled.
Rob Nichols has also had some discussions with the man who has the “ticket office franchise” at Eaglescliffe and Chester-le-Street on these issues. The guy is very aware of these on-going problems for fans throughout the UK and he thinks that in discussions that he has already had with VT, then they may be more likely than before to start talking sensibly about this issue. This “franchisee” also has a similar business deal with Grand Central and he has discussed similar things with GC, even down to running direct trains from Teesside to London. There is a lot of unused passenger capacity on weekends and the Train Operators have done little about it for years.
We look forward to ME and RN coming back with further info.
- D) AUDIO VISUAL MATCH DAY EXPERIENCE.
Mark Ellis and Paul Dews discussed this. The comments made in Feb had been discussed and they suggested “certain changes” to timings, volumes in pre-match entertainment and announcements would be in place for the Man City game and monitored from then onwards.
- E) DISABLED SUPPORTERS GROUP ISSUES.
Paddy brought us up to date with their latest meeting with MFC in February. MDSA main issue at present is the consistent and obvious “LACK OF” Disabled spaces at most other Football stadiums. At the RIVERSIDE we have about 25 spaces for visiting disabled fans and about 175 for our own fans, but when we go to clubs like Chelsea, our fans have to make do with FOUR (4) SPACES. Despite the fact that this issue has been raised with Chelsea previously, they say nothing will be done as they are in the process of re-building a new stadium. Perhaps this could be raised formally AGAIN by ourselves and MDSA with the Football authorities as clubs who neglect the provision of disabled seats ARE NOT IN COMPLIANCE WITH CURRENT LEGAL REQUIREMENTS. To discuss further.
- F) DOMAIN NAMES / WEBSITE / FUNDING FOR CAPITAL EXPENDITURE.
Chris Joseph explained all the issues needed to be put in place to formalise & legalise the establishment of MSF.
The setting up of a “Limited by Guarantee Company “for MSF will cost £15 + vat.
Website “ BORO.SUPPORT” will be main point of contact.
CJ has already “bought” 2 domain names we can use.
1) “ MSF.Support” ….. 2) “ Boro.Support” These 2 sites have cost £31.18p each incl. VAT. We have had an offer by the current RedArmy.TV website designer to build a website for us at a cost of “mates rates” £150. He will also do monthly maintenance and hosting for us at cost. He is currently doing work for 2 members of of MSF and is known to CJ, PH and DR for work done currently and in the past 2 years. He is reputable, local and available at very short notice IF we have a problem. Bank account to be set up. CJ and PH will attend to this.