Middlesbrough Supporters Forum – Meeting 5

Held at Middlesbrough FC, Riverside Stadium at 7pm – Monday 6th June 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
Steve Rock Middlesbrough Official Supporters Club
David Roberts RedArmy.TV – Sports Media Group
Representative Red Faction Fans Group
Middlesbrough Supporters South Peter Waugh representing Phil Waugh(Chair of MSS)
Caroline Walker Diversity & Equality Representative

We were also joined by Mark Ellis and Yvonne Ferguson on behalf of Middlesbrough FC.
and Tom Curry who has designed our new website.

Chris Joseph opened the meeting and welcomed everyone.
Chris reported apologies for absence from Paul Dews of MFC and John Donovan of The Twe12th Man.
The minutes of the last meeting were read through, agreed as correct and accepted as read.
Proposed by Paddy Cronesberry. Seconded by Dave Roberts.

Matters arising from previous minutes:-


Rob Nichols gave a full report on his visit to the FA meeting on Safe Standing which was attended by representatives from FSF, PL, FA and FL representatives.

Meeting was very positive about this issue from all parties but all agreed there was still a long way to go to see the proper introduction to English Football; not least, there having to be a change in law to allow it to happen. There was a comprehensive discussion on many issues under this subject. We all agreed that we would issue a FANS SURVEY in the media and on our new website and all MSF group sites where possible to get the public reaction. There are plenty of “misconceptions as to what it really means so we will attempt to advise and inform fans via this Survey – and supporting info on our websites.

Proactive work thus needs to be done at “grass-roots level and upwards” to make it happen. CJ read out a proposed “press release” on this issue which we will release shortly. RN has already talked through the major points with the Gazette and N/Echo as we will need their support on this release. The General Football public will really need to get on board very positively if there is to be a successful outcome. The FSF are very keen for our “SURVEY” to go ahead. Several other clubs have already done this and results were very encouraging. For example, ARSENAL fans survey brought over 7,000 replies with 93% in favour of “safe standing”. Mark Ellis pointed out that “safe standing” would not necessarily be any cheaper than having a seat or mean that more people would be able to attend. Density would probably be similar to the position of normal seating. There was a widely encompassing exchange of views, as previously but this survey will provide us with lots more facts and substance to take it forward positively.

Paddy CRONESBERRY on behalf of MDSA mentioned how “sight-lines” for disabled fans needed to be considered very carefully in discussions. It was accepted that this would be one of the main points in future discussion. Rob stated he would forward a copy of the FA meeting minutes to all members shortly.


Chris introduced Tom Curry who has designed our MSF website. A presentation of the website was shown on the big screen by Tom and Chris and the benefits to the whole MSF ideology was discussed. All members present were very pleased with the design and concept. It was agreed that we look to make the launch date 14th June 2017. All local media organisations will be notified and we hope to get a good deal of publicity for the group.

It was agreed that we will launch the SAFE STANDING Press Release as soon as the new website is up and running. CJ also confirmed that he had agreed a licence with MFC to permit MSF to use the official “MFC Crest logo” both within the BORO.SUPPORT website logo design and in a direct link to the MFC website from the new MSF website for a peppercorn sum of £1. Chris Joseph paid the £1 and thanked MFC.


Mark and Yvonne both gave lots of current information about the progress of several activities that are being progressed in regard to the Premier League Equality Standard. The Club will make a presentation to a Premier League Panel in London on June 22nd. In addition to several members of staff, a Boro Supporter will also be present to give an input from a supporter’s perspective. Mark also reinforced that MFC understands and recognizes the need for staff throughout the club at all levels to be equality and diversity “ambassadors” and advised that there is an ongoing training and education program for club staff. He also summarised some statistics from recent surveys that showed low representation of minority communities and disabled people in Club employees and supporters. Yvonne advised that a BME Fans Forum is in the process of being set up along with an LGBT Fans Forum (Caroline Walker will contact this group). Discussions on accessibility in the stadia for the disabled groups are also progressing with the Equalities and Human rights Commission. Paddy Cronesberry commented that he was aware that WATFORD had been criticised by the FA for their lack of “disabled facilities”. WATFORD countered that they have more than they actually use although they are below the suggested numbers required under the Accessible Stadia Guide. They have committed to always providing additional wheelchair spaces above the demand. The Premier League is now asking all PL clubs to conform fully to the Accessible Stadia Guide or have plans in place to do so as soon as possible.

3d) FAN ZONE Review.

Yvonne stated that MFC is looking to hold 2 or 3 Fan Zones days for the new season. Dates will be agreed once the fixture list is issued. MFC would like to build on the success of the first FanZone by making the next one bigger and better. Yvonne asked that anyone with any “creative or unusual” ideas to consider should contact her.


In reply to a question about “capped prices” for tickets – “£20 is plenty” from last season – Mark commented that as yet, no decisions have been taken for next season. There is a Board meeting of MFC in a few days’ time and season card / ticket pricing would be on the agenda. He will keep us informed.

Rob Nichols said that Richard Scudamore from the Premier League had mentioned at the last FSF/FA meeting that RS was “very frustrated” at the lack of ideas and progress towards answers in relation to “re-arranged tickets due to match-date and time alterations issues.”

Peter Waugh, speaking on behalf of MSS, asked whether it would be possible for MFC to resurrect the BORO PRIDE card scheme. Mark advised that Boro Pride would not be resurrected. The large number of season card holders and priority given to them makes the Boro Pride scheme impractical. Peter Waugh raised the away ticket allocation for MSS. Yvonne said she would discuss this directly with MSS. Mark stated that there had been no contact from VIRGIN Trains. However, he will contact them again. Rob Nichols said he would have a discussion with MSS as to what exactly could be done to help with the issue of “group concessions” for weekend travel deals with GCR.


Mark clarified that TICKET sales will remain on 0844 numbers for logistical purposes and to encourage online purchase of tickets which is faster and cheaper. However, following the request of the MSF, main “General Enquiries” lines to MFC will no longer incur premium charges.


Chris confirmed that all members of MSF have paid their payments in full. The Chairperson and Secretary also contributed to the initial funding with similar donations. Chris Joseph and Dave Roberts have been reimbursed for the costs of buying the MSF website domain names at a cost of £31.18p each, and a payment to Tom Curry for his work on the website of £150 has also been made.


Caroline Walker reported to Mark Ellis about a situation where a regular attendee at games who sits just behind her often uses some extremely offensive words during “intense” parts of the game. There are older and younger children in that area but she feels that perhaps there should have been “intervention” by a seating steward when this has occurred in the past. It has happened on numerous occasions but feels that something should and could be done. Mark was disappointed that nothing had been done about this. Yvonne advised anything of this nature to be reported to supporters@mfc.co.uk so Supporter Services could deal with it. Yvonne said she would diary for next season and contact Caroline after the first home game to see if this was still a problem. Yvonne advised she would also discuss with Chris Patzelt – Safety Officer. Mark reiterated that the club does not condone anything like this at all and he would like it solved if the issue raises its head again in the new season.


The MSF Constitution states that the 2 posts are to be on a rotational basis and are to be offered for renewal every 6 months.

This means that Chris Joseph and Peter Hodgson automatically stand-down at this meeting, in order that a new incumbent can be in place for the start of the “new” Football year, starting July 1st.

Chris has already indicated that changing personal commitments made it more difficult for him to stand for re-election at present and he offered his resignation. Peter stated that he had tried for the last month to persuade Chris to stand again as the amazing amount of work he has done to set up and establish the MSF as a genuine voice of fans across the spectrum of football in this area is absolutely brilliant. Peter stated that they had known each other since the start of the “original” Boro Supporters Club in 1973 and Chris’ exceptional talents should still be available to the MSF. He suggested that “should” Chris resign, we should seek to keep his talents on board by offering him an “honorary” position as President. A general consensus agreed it was a good idea and that a new position be created and offered to Chris. He said he would be honoured to accept the post of President and a vote on that matter was passed unanimously.

David Roberts was proposed and seconded as Chairperson and a new post of Vice Chair for Caroline Walker was created. It was felt that these 2 candidates were ideal for the posts as both have long experience in the fields of media, journalism, PR and, in David’s case, International Sporting TV. Their talents and contacts would prove to be exceptionally useful in the work that MSF looks to achieve in the future. Dave asked PH if he would be willing to continue as Secretary – which he said he would and Peter was voted to continue as Secretary.

6). A.O.B.

Mark Ellis shared some attendance and safety statistics for the season.


Dave Roberts, new chairperson suggested that the next meeting be held on Monday 10th July 2017 at 7pm. Yvonne Ferguson stated that we were again welcome at the Riverside. The time, date and venue were agreed.