Middlesbrough Supporters Forum Meeting 10

Held at Middlesbrough F.C., Riverside Stadium, Middlesbrough @ 7pm. 13th Nov. 2017.

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                                        Middlesbrough Disabled Supporters Assocn.

Rob Nichols                                                                Fly Me To The Moon Fanzine

Representative                                                           Red Faction Fans Group

Steve Rock                                                                  Middlesbrough Official Supporters Club

Mark Motley                                                               Middlesbrough Supporters South

Dave Roberts had been asked by Caroline to take this meeting.

We were also joined by Mark Ellis and Yvonne Ferguson of Middlesbrough FC .

Apologies were sent from John Donovan of Twe12thMan Group.


Also present at the meeting were representatives from four of our local MP’s offices and the Mayor of Middlesbrough, Dave Budd.

Further to discussions in our previous meeting re – Safe Standing issues, our letter to the MP’s offices had met with a very welcoming response.   In the light of more information received from other organisations involved in this matter it was thought timely to invite these people as quickly as possible to our meeting to get their thoughts on Safe Standing. It would also give us, and them, ideas as to how we could work together to really drive the issue forward.

The MP office representatives attending were :-

Bob Cook from Alex Cunningham’s office – Matthew Storey from Andy McDonald’s office – Dan Smith from Dr Paul William’s office – Julia Whitehill from Simon Clarke’s office.

Alec Brown from Anna Turley’s office was unable to attend.


A prompt start was made and David welcomed everyone to the meeting. The normal format of business had been amended so that we could discuss the Safe Standing issue and then our guests could depart and leave us to get on with the normal agenda as had been previously circulated.

Chris and Rob had prepared an informative Power Point presentation to explain the various contentious points of the issue and measures which had been debated – and others which are still open for debate to try to initiate whatever legal issues are needed to bring forward the issue of “Safe Standing” as an alternative to current “normal seating” and NOT the reversion to the old method of standing.

Rob went through the presentation which brought forth numerous questions and points of discussion from all of our guests.  Rob gave very informative answers gleaned from his previous meetings with the FSF, FA and Premier League on this issue.

Matthew from Andy McDonald’s office said that early discussions were good as it would give us somewhat of a head start on this issue.

Julia from Simon Clarke’s office asked what was the difference in “legislation” in relation to why PL and FL Championship grounds were NOT allowed Safe Standing but the lower Divisions ( 1 & 2) were allowed.      Rob explained the reasons in relation to costs and crowd sizes.    She also questioned as to HOW Football Clubs can determine how many “Safe Seats” would be needed at their home stadium as on occasion visiting teams may STILL want to buy some old style SEATS and some ” S.S. seats”.  How will the numbers be worked out ? Obviously one of the major points to progress.

Pictures of the different styles of Safe Seating currently under discussion and some previously installed at several German stadia and also at Celtic FC were shown and points about the actual workings were discussed.

Several other issues were discussed but the overall view was very positive from our “political guests” who thought that the subject was well worth their MP colleagues looking further into it alongside the MSF.

Dave & Paddy suggested the following statement embraced the issue to hand by the use of these few words – thus:-



Chris presented each of our guests with a hard copy of the presentation with further notes.

Dave thanked them all for their attendance, promised to keep them up to date with the issues and looked forward to seeing them and their MP’s as soon as possible to kick-start our initiative.

As we prepared to start the matters relating to our previous meeting (no.9), Caroline asked that it be placed on the minutes that thanks should go to Chris and Rob for putting together the P.P. document for the meeting.     Also, when the initiative was announced through the normal media channels after the last meeting, the two guys did really well in interviews and chats on local radio and the local press – presenting a very professional and knowledgeable impression of M.S.F.


Matters arising from minutes of meeting 9.

As per normal practice, after circulation to all parties by e-mail, the minutes were accepted as read.

Letter re- ticket pricing sent to S. Gibson:   Mark Ellis said he had spoken to Mr Gibson and he had confirmed again that MFC were happy with their system and were not looking at changing it.

Away match ticket sales up-date for on-line selling:    Mark Ellis also confirmed that the new system of times for sales on phone and internet sales was working extremely well. This system will continue to be trialled until the New Year and in the light of the above, hopefully continued until the end of the season.

Earlier release of away match tickets for sale:  Mark Ellis explained that the timing is in agreement and with the co-operation of the other Club.  He agreed that we should try to be more rigorous in the approach and as a start point, we will try to adhere to a minimum of a 21 day leadtime and then build on that with an eventual goal of 28 days.

Hull City FC – concession price ticket structure:  Following on from our previous discussions, Rob advised he had emailed the supporters’ group with our support.

Alternate ways to exit the stadium:  After previous discussions re fans arrests and issues re exiting fans from the stadium at end of Sheff Utd game.  Mark Ellis said that he had discussed these things further with local Police and SAG people and they were basically satisfied with their “NORMAL” modus -operandi at Boro home games.   He also confirmed that fans are not routinely held back at the Riverside.  Incidents are very few and far between. The Sheff Utd game incident was an isolated issue. Peter Hodgson raised the matter of the approx 12 fans arrested and threatened with Court appearances.  To date 5 people had appeared in various North Eastern courts from Sheffield to York to Teesside.  By and large, all the defendants had pleaded sob stories and received several “slapped hands” with minimal fines and a few hours Community Service. PH suggested that the Court Authorities were not sufficiently distressed by the amount and seriousness of VIOLENT BEHAVIOUR committed if that was the severity of penalty issued.

Fans Supporting Food Banks:  Rob attended this FSF fans initiative at St James Park a few weeks ago. There was a good turn out from all sectors of the community.  Lots of good supporting ideas and best practice issues were discussed. Many ideas on how to generate cash funds and food for onward distribution were revealing the extent of how much can be achieved.  For example, NUFC started their funds and food raising work.  Their turnover in numbers of people helped is amazing.   The Supply Liaison Officer at the Sunderland Stadium of Light is preparing an “action plan” to help all those who attended the event in the hope of increasing the donations of much needed stocks of food and clothing in the run up to winter.

Yvonne Ferguson said that MFC are currently working with Red Faction to hold a day of donations to the RedFaction “food bank” efforts.      MFC are currently arranging a fundraising Day for the benefit of the local R.N.L.I. (Lifeboats) organisation.   The behind the scenes guys at RedArmy.tv also held a FOOD for the HOMELESS day last Christmas Eve afternoon from 12 to 7pm. They have since formed a charitable organisation and they are also doing the same thing this year along with other similar events on a more regular basis.

Yvonne suggested that in view of the fact that several member groups are doing similar worthy fund-raising, it might work well if we all co-ordinated our efforts and maybe organise things on a more formal basis with any help MFC can provide alongside their own community work.   Needs further discussion.

Any Other Business:-

Position of Chair – going forward. PH.

The tenure of the Chair / Vice-chair and Secretary were initially proposed in our Constitution as being of 6 months each. PH stated that this seems a rather hasty turn-around of the main Officers of the Group as, in his case as Secretary, he has already served under 3 Chair persons in less than 9 months. It seems that no sooner has one “chief” set his feet under the table than he has to “up-sticks” and give the job to someone else. The issue at stake here is that we hardly get chance to familiarise ourselves with the issues at stake and how our colleagues like to work with each other outside of the MSF meetings with things such as discussions, preparations and admin work for the running of the organisation. Not forgetting the pain of having to change bank signatories and sign new documents to enable new people to sign cheques, get statements etc.,   PH proposed that we let the status quo exist until 30th June – which is the end of financial year for all football clubs THEN WE OFFER PLACES FOR RE-ELECTION FROM 1st JULY 2018 for the period of 12 months….thus offering a nice and tidy 12 month tenure to run alongside a full football season.

This suggestion was proposed by PH and 2nd by SR and voted for unanimously.   CW will continue as Chair until given date

Media issues – ( x 3 ) CW.

  1. a) Social media. Caroline assures us all that we now have a fully functioning presence on TWITTER – if you feel the need – we are alive and kicking on TWITTER @Boro.support CW requested everyone follow and share MSF twitter feed
  2. b) Media release re – agenda items. As well as posting details of minutes on FB and the other media sites, as previously agreed, we shall also now be posting copies of forthcoming agenda items and also inviting readers/viewers/contributors to our site to raise any issues they have with us here at MSF. We can then peruse their ideas, complaints or whatever…..and if it is worth acting upon, we MAY do so – OR if appropriate, move it along to the organisation most suitable to handle the persons thoughts/problems.
  3. c) North American Fans – Caroline would like to issue an invitation to a group of North American BORO SUPPORTERS she is in contact with – who would like to pick up a “skype link” to listen and hopefully contribute to a meeting with MSF. Sounded like a good idea – everyone concurred and so we recommended she make the arrangements.

Allocation of AWAY SEATING tickets – Rob Nichols.

Rob has discovered a situation where adults with children – and disabled or just elderly people who are unable to stand through a whole game are considering NOT GOING to away games – as when they buy AWAY SEATS, their seats are invariably in the middle of a row and everyone else stands up throughout the game.    OBVIOUSLY, they cannot see the game so they are unfairly disadvantaged through no fault of their own.

Mark said that he will investigate an option for supporters to register a preference for front row seats at away games.  This will require a database be set up and individual supporters will need to declare a preference for front row seating.


Ticket prices – RF


RF representative and ME had further discussion on walk up ticket pricing and on upgrade cost of concession ticket.  ME reiterated the club’s stance and stated that will not change.



Sponsorship for MSF  – CJ.

Chris was at a business meeting with several local businesses two weeks ago and took the opportunity to discuss the work of our separate groups under this MSF banner.  Many attending were passionate BORO fans so he made a very subtle but persuasive “pitch” to one of the Company bosses to consider a possible sponsorship between them and ourselves.   CJ provided the company with further background information, the work we are looking to do and the aims we wish to achieve with this organisation. The subject of a sponsorship deal will go before the Company’s Board of Directors in late November. Fingers crossed. Well done, Chris.


Business Cards – CJ.

Following on from the last item – CJ suggested that we provide a ” BUSINESS CARD ” for us to hand out to let people know that WE DO EXIST –  but that we also provide support, experience and assistance to people who may also be able to help and support MSF .       A short discussion on what type of card and the appropriate wording took place and it was decided a generic card would be the best option.


Fans Bet – DR.

Dave stated that he had been approached by this organisation which was interested in bringing a FANS BETTING SCHEME to the table for discussion. It specialises in groups like the members of MSF aligned with football – and pays a percentage of all losing bets to the fans themselves and our nominated charities. It was suggested that Dave investigated their offer further and report back.

ME advised the club could not participate or host this due to its own commercial arrangements


Dave thanked Yvonne and her colleagues at MFC for their hospitality tonight.

Yvonne responded with a nod to the festive season and she again invited us to partake of MFC hospitality for the next meeting which will be held on Monday 11th December at 7.00pm.

This was gratefully accepted and there being no further business, Dave closed the meeting at 9.05pm.