Middlesbrough Supporters Forum – Meeting 6

Held at Middlesbrough FC, Riverside Stadium at 7pm. 10th July, 2017.
Attendees were :-
David Roberts Chairperson Middlesbrough Supporters Forum
Peter Hodgson (Secretary – pro-tem.) Middlesbrough Supporters Forum
Paddy Cronesberry, MBE Middlesbrough Disabled Supporters Assn.
Rob Nichols Fly Me To The Moon Fanzine
Caroline Walker Diversity & Equality representative.
Steve Rock Middlesbrough Official Supporters Club
Christopher Joseph President – Middlesbrough Supporters Forum

Apologies for absences were received from John Donovan (Twe12th Man), Phil Waugh (MSS) and Yvonne
Ferguson (MFC). RedFaction were not represented. We were also joined by Mark Ellis and Bob Tait of
Middlesbrough FC. Bob is in charge of Digital and Marketing Development.

The meeting opened and all were welcomed by David Roberts in his first meeting as Chairman of MSF.

Minutes of Meeting 5 had been previously agreed and distributed to all parties and posted on the various media sites, as is now the norm.

Matters arising from minutes of meeting 5.

3a) Safe standing survey. There had been good coverage from the media on the subject and the MSF  website had achieved over 2,000 completed surveys up to 3rd July. It was felt that a “final push” was worth the effort so it was agreed to refresh the ” Safe  Standing Survey” on all the usual channels .

3b) The correspondence from the EFL had been well received by all and a short discussion was held with some clarification from various parties of opinions they had heard. The general consensus is that a good majority of people seem to be keen on seeing this introduced to the EFL .

3c) Mark Ellis gave details of the latest visit to the Riverside by the Equality and Human Rights Commission group who are accountable for ensuring that companies are in compliance with the Equality Act of 2010. The visit went very well but the proof of Boro’s progress will be when the actual report is issued to MFC . Mark said that MFC have an on-going review of the ground and are constantly re-newing and refreshing various parts of the ground to keep pace with ever improving standards.

3d) Rainbow Reds . Caroline reported that the representative for Rainbow Reds had been delayed but he was trying to get to the Riverside ASAP. Matter was adjourned until his arrival, however the representative failed to arrive.

3e) FanZone Family Fun Day. Though on holiday, Yvonne Ferguson was able to update that the next FanZone is scheduled for Saturday 16 September when Boro welcome QPR to the Riverside Stadium. It is expected there will be 3 such events for the coming season.

3f) Reciprocal Pricing Agreements in the EFL. Rob stated that Ipswich Town ARE supporting the reciprocal agreement for this season. There have been similar comments from another 3 or 4 clubs BUT nothing on a “group decision basis ” has been officially raised or discussed as yet. Mark said that MFC WILL NOT be participating in such an incentive as the Club believes that their overall approach to pricing is reasonable and competitive.

4 ) Walk up prices for matches. Following the receipt of a letter from John Donovan this issue was discussed briefly. The main issue seems to be to incentivise ” more walk-ups” on the day and to “improve the match day atmosphere”. Mark Ellis responded (not for the first time) that the extension to the 18 to 21 pricing to the North Stand is not being considered. Also that as far as MFC are concerned, the introduction of further pricing complexity would only introduce further requests for change in other parts of the ground.

5) New MFC website. Bob Tait, who is directly responsible for digital developments at MFC, gave a very interesting and enlightening chat on HOW the website operates – and also gave many insights as to how the team at the Digital and Marketing Development team are looking to be at the front of any new ideas that will improve all aspects of news and feature delivery for our supporters – at home and around the world. The new website was launched on 27th June and there has been very encouraging news from across the board as to how much better is for all concerned. MFC are now independent of the EFLi agreement and can exercise more control of the running and content of the site as they are now in total control of the website, e.g. BORO Plus is now free of charge. One of the next major improvements is hoped to be the introduction of a ‘single sign-in’ access to all parts of the site.

Chris Joseph asked Bob if it would be possible for the link to MSF on the site to be directed to us as ” BORO.SUPPORT “. Bob said he was happy to do that. he also asked that anyone spotting any flaws or issues in the new website, please do get in touch and they will be rectified ASAP.

6) Live Match Audio and Video Streaming. Mark Ellis detailed how MFC have been in discussion with the EFL regarding the live streaming of match audio commentary in the 2017/18 season. Although MFC have a preferred goal of providing this service free of charge, the EFL regulations covering live broadcasting require that the service is behind a pay wall with a minimum subscription charge of £45 per season for audio commentary.

Mark also provided details of how on the 21st June the EFL announced the launch of iFollow, a digital streaming platform providing live video only coverage of many EFL matches. Middlesbrough Football Club have reviewed the product and have some reservations about the economic viability of the service for MFC supporters. The basic facts about the service are,

• It is only available to fans based overseas – outside the UK and Ireland.
• It is a subscription based product with a minimum cost of £110 per season
• Although coverage could be up to 46 games per season, any games that are selected for live TV coverage will not be available; there is no guarantee of the minimum number of games that will be available.
• Although the streaming will be in HD quality, it will be from a single camera at most venues.
• The basic package does not include commentary.

MFC will have to pay a significant fee to the EFL to provide the service for overseas fans. At the moment, the Club’s view is that insufficient subscriptions would be obtained to cover this fee.

7 ) RedArmy.TV 5-a-side Challenge. Dave Roberts informed that RedArmy.TV is organising this day on the first international weekend of the new season on Sat. 7th October. It is an OPEN Invitation event to find the best Boro supporter’s 5-a-side team. Part of it will be to attempt to spread the “diversity” opportunity for the minority communities in our area to take part.

Peter Hodgson suggested that he would contact Nas Khan at Jennings who is a major part of the Asian Community and Chairman of S.Jennings Ltd., – the North’s largest FORD and multi-franchise dealerships. Possible sponsorship and advertising opportunities could be explored.

Any Other Business

Train Travel for MSS travellers. There has been no further news from any of the links to this issue. We will “prod” the principals concerned….

Ethnicity of fans. Steve Rock revealed MOSC has discussed the situation of ethnicity and are proposing to be more active in the encouragement of local communities through their events and publicity.

Concourse Catering 17/18 Season – Mark Ellis also commented on some changes to the different types of Concourse catering for the new season. Various types of food are more popular in some areas than others so small changes to food offerings and availability will be in place for 2017/18.

There being no further business., the meeting adjourned at 8.45pm .
The next meeting will be at BOHO 5 on Monday 14th August at 7.00pm.