Middlesbrough Supporters Forum……Meeting 38

Held at Middlesbrough FC. Riverside Stadium, Middlesbrough 6.30pm 9th March 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

David Roberts – Red Army TV & Radio

Paddy Cronesberry, MBE. – MDSA

John Donovan – Twe12th Man

Matthew Gale – Rainbow Reds

Representative – Red Faction

Owen Swift – Boro Supporters Club 2020

Yvonne Ferguson – Middlesbrough FC

Apologies received from Mark Motley (Boro Supporters South) & Jennifer Wright (MFC)

Per normal practice, after circulation to all parties by e-mail, minutes of meeting 37 were accepted as read. 

1) Caroline asked if anyone had any thoughts about Covid-19 virus. The issue was briefly discussed and the consensus of opinion was that Covid-19 and its potential effect on public gatherings such as football matches etc should be decided by Government and Medical advice. However, we should all remain acutely aware of ongoing issues and be ever more vigilant for our own personal safety whilst also keeping a weather eye on the afore mentioned Government and Medical advice and act accordingly.

2) CJ and PH updated on the “Boots2Africa” collection to be held on Saturday, 4thApril, 2020 before the QPR game.   Initial contacts with lots of potential support organisations have been very well received and we are hopeful of a great turnout on the day.  We at MSF will publicise this across our usual media contacts and promises of support from Radio Tees, the Gazette and others has been promised. 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.

3) CJ advised that our letter to the new Sports Minister (Oliver Dowden MP) “re-safe standing” has been acknowledged noting that we will be kept informed of any progress. Recent comments from the National SGSA 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.   Several members asked that we keep pushing for action to allow this introduction across the board to be granted by the Government.  We shall do this.

4) CJ confirmed that he has written directly to Neil Bausor, CEO to invite him to a future MSF meeting.  He asked Yvonne if she had any further news on this and she said she would refresh the issue with Neil asap.

5) RN stated he had written to MFC about the possible Sectarianism situation with the imminent Boro v Stoke game – based on past history. Yvonne confirmed that MFC would issue a “reminder statement” to all fans travelling to the Stoke game about not being involved in racist chanting. Stoke City police are already on alert for this situation at every home game nowadays.

6) Details of the Boro Fans -v- Derbyshire Police Civil Court case – adjourned whilst awaiting Judges ruling. CJ has spoken with one of the Plaintiffs who confirmed nothing has been heard yet about the Courts decision. We will refresh this with the Solicitors.

7) GambleAware campaign. RN spoke about some of the issues under discussion with the FSA.  Overall, should we ask if we need to consider further, the influence that gambling organisations now exert on so many sports? As was the case many years ago with F.1 grand Prix and Tobacco adverts – are we again seeing the “tail wagging the dog?”  The FSA are pro-active on this matter and we should keep a close eye on how this matter progresses.  CJ also introduced a poster of an “anti-gambling” nature which he has designed and will introduce to the FSA meeting on Thursday 12th March in London.

8) JD spoke about the recent decision from MFC to now allow season ticket prices to apply for 18 to 21year-old fans in all areas of the Riverside Stadium. It is a cause John has championed for many seasons until now without success.  He has written to Steve Gibson thanking him for introducing this change in pricing strategy. We are all convinced that this decision will be well supported by many fans in future.

9) JD also introduced the question of “Walk-Up” ticket prices for next season. It was suggested by YF that the MSF representatives from RedFaction, Twe12th Man and FMTTM arrange a group discussion to put some new, different and innovative ideas along with the “walk-up schemes”.  CJ suggested that he be involved and that they meet with Lee Fryett BEFORE the end of this season for him to present to the MFC Board. Maybe the old system of BORO PRIDE could be revived as it was a very popular initiative.

10) CJ also confirmed the renewal of sponsorship of the MSF from local company “Watch.Learn.Drive.”  Their Director, Adam Bragg has been impressed with the work of MSF over the past year and is delighted to renew his sponsorship for us through to the end of season 2020/21 – as are we.  Many thanks, Adam.

11) MOSC closure meeting. PH and CJ advised that they had attended the final meeting of members of the old MOSC which had ceased to operate in August 2019. They had overseen the issue of all final legal notices to hold the meeting last Wednesday 4th March at the nearby 6-Medals Pub. There was an attendance of 18 members in total.  The one remaining task to do was vote on the disposal of the MOSC assets. PH explained clearly how the vote should be held.  All the members debated the issue and voted unanimously to divide ALL of the remaining funds of the MOSC between 6 local charities and organisations. Cheques were written, distributed and the bank balance has now been cleared totally. Following this meeting, the MOSC is now officially closed.

A.O.B.

12) Rob received a letter from an ex-pat in Thailand as to why Boro fans abroad were unable to watch Boro away games when Boro are not on SKY.  It was explained that there are many very complex technical and financial issues affecting the coverage by the “i-follow” scheme.  MFC investigated the “i-follow” scheme about 2 years ago and explained it comprehensively to the MSF group back then. Yvonne said she was happy to pass this to the Digital team for further information to be relayed to the fan.

13) Keen fan, Gordon Rees had written to FMTTM to ask if there will be any special celebrations for Boro’s 25th Anniversary at the Riverside Stadium next season. As a keen collector of Boro shirts, he was especially keen to know if there will be a “special shirt” produced?  Yvonne said that there are many ideas being discussed for this extra special season and all will be revealed in time.

14) Boro v Nottingham Forest.  Red Faction rep stated that 5 Boro fans from Germany and 1 Boro fan from Greece had travelled to meet up for the weekend with friends from Red Faction at the Riverside to watch this game. They had booked flights, hotels and match tickets as far back as January to support Boro at that game. About 3 weeks prior to the game, it was moved 2 days by SKY from Saturday 29th Feb to the following Monday, 2nd March.  As they were unable to amend their travel arrangements, they totally missed the game, which negated the whole purpose of their trip across Europe to Middlesbrough whilst still suffering the consequently pointless financial loss.

             A discussion ensued relating to the whole long-standing issue of fans being penalised by TV company actions with no concern for the considerable amounts of lost cash and inconvenience to fans that inevitably follows such fixture changes.   In this age of Super Technology – there should be NO NEED AT ALL for any supporters to be treated in this manner. If changes are so vitally important that they MUST BE MADE at such short notice, the financial consequences of any loss to supporters of the travelling team SHOULD be accepted by the broadcasters.

              This is a really important, yet regular occurrence where the fans are treated appallingly. We will write to the organisations involved to highlight this reprehensible state of affairs and ask what they are going to do to prevent this happening again – or at least, HOW they SHOULD compensate fans for their losses incurred through NO FAULT OF THEIR OWN.  It could be a very interesting challenge – but we’ll keep you informed.

15) RedArmy Radio and TV.  Our broadcasting expert, Dave Roberts was pleased to report that only 10 months since the launch of the RedArmy Radio station – they have surpassed 2,000 hours of broadcasting the latest BORO News and features across Teesside and the North East – two months ahead of schedule. Well done, Dave.

16) Chris Joseph was pleased to report that the MSF Middlesbrough Foodbank distributed across Middlesbrough by the TRUSSELL TRUST have reported that our efforts via “match day” collections for them over the last 2 seasons have totalled 2.33 tons of food and additional cash donations of £ 2,750.                                                                        It has been an amazing effort by Boro fans along with contributions from several other Clubs fans who visited the Riverside on match days.

Well done to you all – many, many thanks.

Meeting closed at 8.30pm.  There being no further business, CJ thanked everyone for their attendance.

Next meeting 6.30pm TUESDAY, 14th April,2020 at Riverside Stadium.