Middlesbrough Supporters Forum – Meeting 8

MSF Meeting 8 – Held at The Riverside Stadium, Middlesbrough @ 7pm. 11th September, 2017.

Attendees were :-

Caroline Walker ( Vice – Chair ) Middlesbrough Supporters Forum
Peter Hodgson (Secretary) Middlesbrough Supporters Forum
Paddy Cronesberry, MBE Middlesbrough Disabled Supporters Assn.
Rob Nichols Fly Me To The Moon Fanzine
John Donovan Twe12thMan Group
Representative Red Faction Fans Group
Steve Rock Middlesbrough Official Supporters Club
Phil Bullock RedArmy.TV
Christopher Joseph President – Middlesbrough Supporters Forum

Apologies for absences were received from David Roberts and M.S.S.

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

The meeting opened at 7pm and all were welcomed by Caroline Walker who chaired the meeting as Dave Roberts is away on business.

Minutes of Meeting 7 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 7.

3a.) FanZone Family Fun Day.

Yvonne gave an update on the FanZone to be held next Saturday at the QPR game.

It is much bigger than last season’s FanZone and she asked that all member groups please get the message out to their members and help make sure that the day is a success.

3b.) Reciprocal Ticket Pricing.

Phil Bullock from RedArmy.TV reported that the letter that we proposed to send to Steve Gibson had been done and sent to Steve and to our website but it has not yet been uploaded to our pages. This was due to the 3rd party website host failure in uploading documents sent to him. PH & CJ said they will attend to it. It was suggested MSF should obtain CMS access of the site in order to maintain and manage the content itself.

Mark Ellis had not seen the letter sent via MFC to Steve Gibson but Yvonne said she thinks it may have been passed directly through to Steve Gibson at Bulkhaul for attention. Mark Ellis will check on it.

c) Away ticket allocations to our groups.

Yvonne Fergusson requested that all group allocation requests for away fixtures MUST adhere to deadlines. IF you don’t get your application in by the deadline you will NOT get your allocation in future.

Further items for discussion.

4 ) Ticket sales process for away games. Mark Ellis gave a detailed explanation of how the new system of ticket sales application will work. Detailing things like use of phone systems, application timings changed to evenings as well as during the day, how the use of the Ticketmaster facility will impact on the calling system. The system is in action TONIGHT from 6pm for the Fulham away game.

Jo Ann Swinnerton, who is in charge of the operation, attended the meeting detailed a few of the issues that had caused MFC to try to improve the system to offer a better chance for more people to obtain tickets in an easier and more convenient manner. Tonight’s operation had suffered a small hiccup at the start of the procedure which was quickly rectified, however the ticket office had not been as busy as they had expected.

John Donovan explained that Fulham FC operate a ” Neutral Fan Zone” and tickets have been on sale for that area on the Fulham FC website since last week. He was aware that a number of Boro fans had already bought tickets from there to ensure they got a ticket for the game.

Mark Ellis commented, “MFC decided to implement a revised process for the sale of away tickets this evening for the Fulham game following feedback from supporters about the standard procedure.

The timing of the “on sale” was delayed to 6pm to avoid normal day work hours. This also had the benefit of maximising the number of – and time available to MFC staff to focus on the “on sale” process. Ticketmaster had also been briefed on the revised timing and asked to provide an increased service.

Unfortunately, due to a human error, the online sales were initially hindered by a mistake in the setup which resulted in Adult and Over 65 sales not being available. This was corrected within 20 minutes but clearly impacted the service negatively. The number of phone callers and the time in queue was monitored and the results will be used to make changes for the next on-sale process.

Overall, the demand was not as high as anticipated but after the initial error was quickly corrected, the system worked extremely well and the majority of applications were dealt with smoothly and without problems.

The test will be repeated for a future game. Feedback on the benefit of the change in timing would be welcomed. ” Steve Rock also pointed out to Mark that Aston Villa had announced that open sale of tickets for tomorrow’s game would be available at the turnstiles at Villa Park.

5 ) Disabled access due to road closures with Footbridge construction.

Red Faction spokesperson commented that some of his disabled members with car park passes had been turned away from the designated areas as they were “not allowed access due to time restrictions”. The procedure with the road closures were outlined by Mark and Yvonne. A communication targeted at season card holders and car park permit holders has advised them of the new access procedures. However, common sense should also be used in the case of disabled supporters and Yvonne promised to speak to the head stewards to ensure that diplomacy, tact and common sense are used where needed. She also said that a further advisory notice would be issued to all the permit holders and a recommended route into their allocated car park would be advised. There would also be a reminder about the ‘One Hour’ arrival deadline.

As far as the disabled driver was concerned, the stewards should have contacted Yvonne immediately for advice. This course of action will be re-enforced to head stewards before the next game.

Red Faction also raised the issue that at the last home game (Preston NE) the bars in the South sand were closed after the game. They were unable to find a steward as to why this happened.

Yvonne said she would investigate and get back to us.

6 ) Fans Forums.

Yvonne stated that the Fan’s Forums would be returning from October. More details will follow when available.

Any Other Business

a) It was reported a small group of fans that sat behind one of the MSF representatives have been using foul language and racist comments over the last few games but was unable to find a steward at the time to identify these people. Yvonne asked to be emailed all details and approximate location of offenders and she will take this up immediately. Yvonne also reinforced her previous comments as to situations like this that immediate action is needed and anyone can call or email her ASAP with all details.

b) Paddy asked what was the latest news regarding the Sheffield Utd crowd disturbance? Mark replied that all the information from MFC had been forwarded to the local and Sheffield Police. Several persons have been questioned and are likely to face prosecution. In fact, one was at court last week and will be sentenced shortly. MFC are awaiting further details of the case news from Sheffield Police.

c) Chris Joseph asked that we ensure that the letter to all our local MP’s relating to the recent safe standing surveys, as we discussed last meeting, is sent out without undue delay. It was suggested that Chris, Rob and Dave deal with it immediately.

d) Chris Joseph also suggested that we should publish the MSF agenda on the website and that any fan should be able to put an important/serious issue to the forum for discussion. We would however, need to retain control of what was put on the agenda and reported in the minutes. It was agreed that we would implement this suggestion forthwith and publicise this.

e) England v Scotland International 8th October. Ticket sales are going reasonably well but Mark and Yvonne both asked that we assist in getting the message out to our members – and anyone else who might be interested asap. MFC have several new packages and promos on offer to individuals and groups. All groups promised to do whatever possible to get the message out there on our sites and word of mouth.

f) Rob Nichols asked about the clubs stance on refund for un-used tickets. Apparently MFC do have a waiting list but they do not take tickets back. Would this be a good idea to have an exchange type system. If someone has 2 spares and the Club have 20 people on a waiting list, would it not help to have some sort of system to enable this to happen. Mark advised that although tickets were not normally refundable, the Club would try to find solutions where appropriate. Rob also stated that as yet, there has been no further progress from Grand Central Railways re- group travel suggestions. Awaiting appointment of new local director in charge of these things.

g) M.S.S. Steve Rock asked that we contact MSS to ask that they do try to get a contact for our meetings to join us on SKYPE link. They are an important and long-standing part of the various Boro Supporters organisations since 1974 and we do value their part in MSF.

There being no further business, the meeting closed 8.45pm.

Next meeting on Monday, 9th October at Boho 5