Middlesbrough Supporters Forum – Meeting 4

Held at BOHO 5, Offices of RedArmyTV at 7pm – Monday 24th April, 2017.


Chris Joseph (Chairperson – pro-tem.) Middlesbrough Supporters Forum
Peter Hodgson (Secretary – pro-tem.) Middlesbrough Supporters Forum
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 from – Red Faction Fans GroupCaroline Walker Fans’ Representative

Apologies received from:-
Paddy Cronesberry, MBE Middlesbrough Disabled Supporters Association
James Howell … (via SKYPE TV link) Middlesbrough Supporters South
Paul Dews Middlesbrough FC

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

Chris Joseph opened the meeting and welcomed everyone.

As the minutes of meeting 3 had already been circulated to all members -who had agreed there were no errors contained therein – also that they have also been published on all the member group’s websites as well as being placed on MFC’s website, it was formally agreed to accept these minutes as correct.

This method of publication and acceptance of minutes would be the accepted “modus operandi” for the MSF from today onwards. It has also been agreed with MFC that a full record of all agreed minutes will be available for public access on the MFC website.

Proposed by C. Joseph. 2nd by P. Hodgson.

Matters arising from previous minutes:

3.a.) Clarity on safe standing.

Rob Nichols gave further details re- the surveys on safe standing made previously by the Football Supporters Federation. A copy of the survey proposed by the FSF is available on-line and is reported on line by Survey Monkey. A number of clubs have now completed these surveys and all seem to be strongly in favour of the introduction of “safe standing” being introduced in some form.

Mark Ellis did make us aware of several issues involving the Sports Ground Safety Authority and the Stadium Design and Operations organisations which will impact upon these proposals. Rob is attending the FSF meeting at Premier League HQ tomorrow on behalf of the MSF to discuss this issue, amongst others.

It was recommended we defer this discussion until we have further information from tomorrow’s meeting (Tues 25/04/2017).

  1. b.) Away travel.

Rob has had further discussions with Grand Central Railways re-transport opportunities for BORO fans in the next seasons. GCR head office have no plan (as yet) re-special train facilities for MFC but Rob thinks that the GCR franchisee at Eaglescliffe may be willing to pursue an alternative arrangement further.

Mark Ellis noted that there had been no further contact from Virgin Rail but he would make further contact as soon as he knew what would be happening next season.

3.c.) Audio-visual experience.

No major further public feedback. Mark Ellis commented that he was concerned that the pre-match intro-music had actually gone too quiet. It seemed that the atmosphere had disappeared before booming back when the final intro music prior to players pitch appearance came on. He suggested that Paul Dews would liaise with Mark Page to balance out sound levels in light of the above.

3.d.) Fan-Zone.

Fan-zone at the Burnley game. Yvonne Ferguson was delighted with the all-round success of the day – especially with the number of people enjoying all the entertainment on offer.

John Donovan thought it was especially heartening to see many BURNLEY fans socializing with Boro fans and families in a safe and friendly environment.

Comparison was made with other clubs’ similar events and Yvonne said she is looking forward to the next event, possibly the 2nd home game of next season….and she has plans to make it a bigger and better event than the last one.

At this point, Mark Ellis asked if he could bring into the discussion a new Club initiative regarding promotion of Equality and Diversity. There was a NEW very VIVID advert on the ground TV at the Arsenal game. It read…. RIVERSIDEBYSIDE…… Equality – Diversity – Inclusion. Mark explained that the Premier League have introduced an Equality Standard that MFC are trying to achieve. One of the requirements is the establishment of a dedicated program to promote equality and diversity. The intention is to create an environment in football clubs that is welcoming to all and encouraging more of the minorities who do not partake in Football to come and join the football family. There is a huge range of statistics to prove how minority communities, cultures, nationalities and disabilities do not embrace the game. The MFC RiverSidebySide program is something that will be developed and communicated more widely in the coming months for all fans to consider and help encourage people to think more about the improvements that we can make in our local society. More about this subject will follow.

3.e.) Capping ticket prices.

Rob Nichols asked – IF Boro are relegated to the Championship, is there any possibility that MFC may introduce a similar scheme for away fans to be charged a maximum ticket price for games. Last year, the Premier League clubs did introduce the £30 MAXIMUM price for away fans tickets at grounds. The PREMIERSHIP initiative was a huge success and had obvious benefits to all away fans wallets.

This current season, READING FC introduced a “20 is PLENTY” ticket at £20 (obviously) to all away fans – an initiative that was reciprocated by a number of other clubs in the league.

Mark stated that nothing had been discussed as yet, however he would take this on board to discuss over the summer months. Apparently, the Football League are discussing this at present. Hopefully, Rob may find more info from his meeting tomorrow.

3.f.) Premium Rate Phone Calls.

Rob Nichols stated he had received a complaint from a fan who had called the Club re a ticket issue – and had been kept hanging on and the call cost him £12. He wanted to know WHY his Club were using Premium Charge Phone Lines.

Mark Ellis explained that the Club use the premium lines for general enquiries and sales transactions. If a supporter has a complaint the Club may be contacted through the complaints process starting with an email to supporters@mfc.co.uk. MFC would then call the supporter.

Chris Joseph pointed out to Mark that a current MFC reception line is still a premium 0844 line number and chargeable at 7p per minute.

Dave Roberts also pointed out a similar issue with calls to reception or ticket desk being re-routed to Ticket Master, then being kept hanging on the line and charged at a higher rate.

These examples were discussed and Mark agreed to review the situation and come back with a response at the next meeting.

John Donovan asked Mark if tickets for AWAY matches next season will be “ON-LINE ONLY”? Mark said that this would still be the case.

3.g.) Publishing Minutes on-line.

Supporting the comments made by Chris Joseph in his opening address this evening, the following actions were confirmed. The system up to issue 3 of the minutes has worked extremely well and all agreed that this should be the pattern we follow in future.

3.h.) Website – Domain names – Set up costs – Donations – Bank accounts.

Chris reported that progress is being made on all the above. Bank accounts, on-line facilities, etc., are now in place. Would members please remit their agreed donations of £50 to Chris Joseph asap. Website ideas are being discussed with the designer – anyone with any ideas, suggestions and comments are always welcome. Domain names, websites are all paid for.

At this point, Mark Ellis offered a donation towards “set-up costs” for the MSF from MFC of £100. Peter Hodgson queried as to whether this was not particularly suitable as it could raise a question about the “independent status” of the MSF if it was seen to receive a donation from MFC.

A short discussion took place with a couple of members expressing similar thoughts – but most members were happy that, as the gesture from MFC (via Mark Ellis) was recorded in these MSF minutes – and it was accepted by all that the gesture was made in genuine good faith by MFC that the offer should be accepted.

A vote to accept was made and passed – and Chris offered our thanks to Mark for the gesture.


Dave Roberts notified all parties that RedArmytv.com is now broadcast on Teesside’s Virgin Media cable TV platform (channel 159) as well as on FREEVIEW channel 7.

Transmission times are :-

Friday @ 1900 hrs

Saturday @ 10.30 hrs and 24.00 hrs ( that’s also known as MIDNIGHT.)Sunday @ 02.30 hrs. Any of the other MSF members are invited to participate or notify Dave of anything BORO-related which may be of interest to Boro fans.

It was reported that Middlesbrough Football Club requested more disabled supporter spaces from Chelsea for the upcoming game, at the request of Paddy Cronesberry, and more spaces were made available.

Yvonne also up-dated us on the contact that had been made previously from “RAINBOW REDS” group. Apparently, they are still in the process of formal setting-up of the group but we’ll keep in touch and see what happens.

N.B. Chris Joseph notified meeting that in line with the MSF Constitution, he would be stepping down at the end of the next meeting as Chairman and a new Chairperson would be elected from the Members to take up office in July for the new season.

There being no other business, Chris closed the meeting at 8.40pm.

Next meeting to be arranged on Monday June 5th 2017 and held at MFC.

Signed:-C. J. Joseph – Chairman ( pro-tem) –

Signed:-P. Hodgson – Secretary ( pro-tem) –