Middlesbrough Supporters Forum……Meeting 37

Held at Middlesbrough FC. Riverside Stadium, Middlesbrough 6.30pm 10th Feb 2020

In attendance were:

Chris Joseph Chair – Middlesbrough Supporters Forum

Peter Hodgson Secretary – Middlesbrough Supporters Forum

Caroline Walker  Diversity – Middlesbrough Supporters Forum

Rob Nichols – Fly Me to the Moon Fanzine

Paddy Cronesberry – MDSA

Mark Motley – MSS

Harry Greenmon – Boro Supporters’ Club 2020

Apologies received from John Donovan, Matthew Gale, Red Faction rep, Dave Roberts, Yvonne Ferguson.

Per normal practice, after circulation to all parties by e-mail, the minutes of meeting 36 were accepted as read.

a) Iain Finch, the founder of the charity “Boots2Africa” joined us at the beginning of the meeting via Skype.  Iain briefed the meeting on the history of the charity, its aims, successes etc. They have support from almost 170 football clubs at all levels across the UK. In the last 3 seasons, they have collected over 14,000 pairs of football boots and trainers and over 30,000 articles of footie kit and other associated sports kit which has been distributed across some very needy areas across 32 countries in Africa and Asia and even as far as Tibet. They have made several visits to Africa in this time and helped set-up properly organised football teams, clubs and training camps for kids of all ages – most of whom had only ever played football in their “bare feet.”  We will be holding a supporting event for “Boots2Africa” on Saturday, 4thApril, 2020 before the Q.P.R.game – to tie-in with final Food Bank collection of this season.                                                                 MSF will publicise this across our usual media contacts. Iain Finch will attend with some of his colleagues to assist us and will also supply us with publicity material. Please give this initiative as much publicity as you can on your websites a.s.a.p.

b) CJ advised that our letter to the Sports Minister re-“safe standing” was acknowledged & the Secretary had confirmed our proposal is now part of the Government’s manifesto. Recent comments from the National Safety Advisory Groups suggest that acceptance of most of the issues still to be finalised have been accepted by authorities and it is likely that a final decision could be made in the very near future.   N.B. Further to this issue, it was announced overnight that Manchester Utd FC have applied for permission to install a 1,500-person section of “safe-standing” in a corner of Old Trafford. There is now a possibility that it could be introduced before the end of this season, hopefully paving the way for general acceptance.  Good news all round.

c) The meeting voted to write directly to Neil Bausor, CEO – to invite him to a future MSF meeting.  Chris J had spoken to Neil at the MDSA dinner last week and Neil indicated he would be keen to learn a little more about MSF and suggested he was open to an invite.   Chris will write to Neil directly with an invitation, possibly suggesting April, May or June – when convenient for Neil. Copy letter to Yvonne Ferguson as S.L.O.

d) CJ explained that he has written to Boro Fusion to explain that due to their “non-attendances” they are no longer members of MSF.  It was suggested to CJ that the group is having some issues about their responsibilities on various levels so would take some time to re-assess what will happen to them and their focus as a group in the future.  CJ did say that should they get properly re-established as a group then the door is always open to future talks about membership-if they feel that is right for them.

e) RN briefed on FSA safer gambling campaign – it was agreed to raise at the next meeting with MFC representative to ascertain what the club’s stance/action would be to support the campaign.

f) PH raised the issue of racist comments at football. He suggested that it could be the “moral duty or responsibility of individuals” to point out perpetrators of racist chants or insulting & foul-mouthed behaviour at the games. Discussion followed with differing viewpoints – fear of retaliation – lack of action from stewards who at times are reluctant to accept this type of responsibility.  The quality of photo recognition and coverage of all parts of the ground, inside and out, is first class nowadays so identifying a face should be reasonably easy and identifiable to a specific seat in the stadium.

It was agreed that at the next meeting the club representative would be asked what the club’s advice is to do should such an incident take place and how it should be reported and to whom

g) A short discussion was also held regarding Boro’s upcoming match at Stoke City and how to avoid a repeat of the sectarian songs and abuse aimed at James McLean – this was not resolved.                                                                                                     It was decided to raise this issue again at our next next meeting but because of the fixture between Stoke City v Boro on March 18th – and the fact it is the day after St. Patrick’s Day, we have asked Rob and Paddy to write to the Club re-awareness and considerations of any preventative measures that could be considered BEFORE the actual game.

h) FSA Dinner – 16th Dec.2019.  CJ made a few brief comments on the events at the Dinner – main one being that WE did not win our classification award – but we did get to the shortlist.  A good outcome seeing as it was our first year in the competition.  CJ suggested that next year there are other classifications that we could enter some of our groups in. Suggestions such as RedArmyTV for community TV coverage – Rob for his amazing record with FMTTM – and other suggestions to be considered at end of season.

i) Details of the Derbyshire Police -v- Boro Fans Civil Court case awaiting Judges ruling. Will probably be made public in next few weeks.

AOB.   Boro Supporters Club 2020.  Harry Greenmon attended to give an update as to the BSC 2020 first membership meeting and details of next meeting. Things going well, good support so far and next meeting in April here at the Riverside.

Meeting closed 8.30pm.  CJ thanked all for their attendance.

Next meeting 6.30pm 9th March 2020 at Riverside Stadium.