Middlesbrough Supporters Forum Meeting 9
Held at RedArmy.TV offices, Boho 5, Windward Way, Middlesbrough @ 7pm. 9th September, 2017.
Attendees were :-
Christopher Joseph President – Middlesbrough Supporters Forum
David Roberts Chairman – M.S.F. & RedArmy.tv
Caroline Walker Vice – Chair M.S.F.
Peter Hodgson Secretary – Middlesbrough Supporters Forum
Paddy Cronesberry, MBE Middlesbrough Disabled Supporters Assocn.
Rob Nichols Fly Me To The Moon Fanzine
John Donovan Twe12thMan Group
Representative Red Faction Fans Group
Steve Rock Middlesbrough Official Supporters Club
Mark Motley Middlesbrough Supporters South
We were also joined by Mark Ellis and Yvonne Ferguson of Middlesbrough FC.
1) The meeting opened at 7pm and David welcomed Mark Motley, the new representative from Middlesbrough Supporters South.
2) Minutes of Meeting 8 had been previously agreed and distributed to all parties and posted on the various media sites, as is now the norm.
3) Matters arising from Minutes of meeting 8.
- a) Website Maintenance. (C.J.J.)
Chris reported that he, PH/RN & DR had a short meeting with Tom Curry to iron out the issues re- last (non)- postings. At this meeting, Tom showed RN the workings of the website, how to add content and generally keep information updated. Rob is quite “au-fait” with these procedures so we will be able to do immediate up-dates in future.
Chris also asked whether we could consider looking for some type of sponsorship to help fund the possibility of paying to promote the website. It was agreed that we can consider doing this. We need to draw up what benefits we can offer to a potential sponsor.
Caroline Walker also suggested that we look to get a presence on a social member site such as “Twitter”. Caroline to come back with some ideas.
It was also suggested that as from meeting 9 forward, as well as the minutes being shown on the Forum site, we should also post a copy of the agenda for meeting 10 et seq.
It was also agreed that we should invite any Boro fans who have any purposeful ideas to submit them to the Forum for further discussion. If worthwhile, we could then take the idea further, possibly to get MFC or other organisations involved.
3.b) Reciprocal ticket pricing. (D.R.)
As we had not received a reply from Steve Gibson following our letter to him re- this issue, we asked Yvonne & Mark whether they had any information on this but they have not had this mentioned to them via the Club channels at all. We will follow this up.
Chris asked the Red Faction member as to the reason for displaying a large banner at the last home game referring to “high ticket prices”.
Red Faction provided the following statement in response:
At the home game against Brentford, RF08 unfurled two banners that stated “Zero Tolerance Policy towards Extortionate Prices”. This was in response to particular wording used in a statement issued by the club in regards to adults being caught using student and under 18 tickets to enter the Riverside on matchday.
The banners were in no way meant to defend the breaking of club rules but to combat the arrogance used in the previously mentioned club statement at a time when walk-up prices at the club and within football are grossly inflated.
The club’s matchday pricing structure has forced many fans to use these means to be able to watch their team.
The club has one of the highest base costs for single adult walk up prices in the league at £27 for the GRFZ and at least £30 for the rest of the ground. These are the same prices that were in effect for our season in the Premier League, with a clear quality gap between the Premier League and the Championship. While you can argue that shouldn’t matter to football fans, they should just follow the club out of blind loyalty, it is one of the biggest factors for non-season ticket holders when deciding how best to spend their money.
Ticket pricing is a huge problem across football, not just at MFC, but while some other clubs of similar standing and spending power seem to be making headway to rectifying this in some form; Middlesbrough FC are being left behind.
Nottingham Forest recently offered all adult tickets at £20 for their three home games across September, smaller initiatives like this throughout the season, especially at times where we have to play two home games in a week could really help the local community. MFC prides itself on being a “community club” so RF08 feels more needs to be done to offer more cost-effective opportunities for Teessiders to watch their club.
RF08 would like to take the opportunity to commend the club on their brilliant work on concessionary pricing, season ticket pricing, the Generation Red Family Zone initiative and the support they have shown the group in recent years.
ME stated yet again MFC’s policy is flexible for early bird members and all other card holders and any Boro fan who would like to buy a ticket. There is a nil interest charge to buy a season ticket so any fan can buy a season card if they wish to pay on a match by match basis. Despite the RF members feeling that fans still believe that MFC “walk-ups” are too expensive – Mark gave these figures to justify this issue being discussed as a positive solution to an ongoing issue.
Walk up ticket in West stand in 2005 was £25 – todays price (12 years later) is only £30. An Early Bird card in season 2005 was £390, the same card price this season is only £397.
3.c) Distribution of Away Tickets to “recognised fan-groups” . ( Mark Ellis-MFC )
Mark and Rob mentioned the comment about this issue which had been mentioned at the last meeting and which was recorded in the minutes thereof. Several comments had been made on FMTTM recording some fans being un-happy about this after reading last month’s minutes from M.S.F. on FMTTM website. The impression was that some tickets for away games had been “given freely” by the club to some fans groups which is absolutely incorrect. None of the member groups or individuals connected with MSF receive free tickets from MFC. As a member group, we have been offered an option to apply to MFC for a very small number of tickets to away games to be sold to season card members who travel away with our separate member groups. We must also record the name and member details with MFC. Also, ticket availability is NOT guaranteed at any time.
Mark issued the following statement of fact for us to use to affirm the Club’s stance on this. This statement was provided freely by Mark and was given on the basis of being used by MSF where and when they considered appropriate.
“For a number of years, MFC have allocated a small, limited number of away game tickets to a few individual supporter groups for sale to season card holders. These groups represent significant numbers of supporters and through their activities have a positive impact on the overall support for the Club. In addition to engaging with the Club in constructive dialogue, they also contribute to the matchday experience at Boro games. The allocation of these tickets is entirely at the Club’s discretion. ”
3.d) Away game ticket sales process update. (M.E.)
Following on from the sales information in the last minutes ( mtg 8 ), Mark Ellis provided us with the actual statistics of what was a very positive and successful exercise to provide a better option for away game ticket sales for Boro fans.
BARNSLEY TICKETS SALES TRIAL.
The results from the Barnsley away ticket sales trial were presented to the meeting. The sales period covered 6 to 8pm on Wednesday 27th September. In excess of 2000 tickets were sold in the first 20 minutes of the process. Online sales continued to account for the vast majority of ticket purchases. Telephone sales totaled 538 tickets via 144 calls. There was a maximum of 57 calls in the queue during the peak sales period.
The Club have agreed to move away ticket sales to 6pm until the end of the year. Feedback on the change will be collected and the situation reviewed in December. ”
3.e) Safe standing letter to local MP’s. (D.R.)
A short discussion was held bearing in mind new information given to us by the FSF (Football Supporters Federation) who have been driving this issue for Government change for the last few years. Updates on legislative procedures, types of actual safe standing seat styles and news of trial systems being used by various lower division clubs were given. Ongoing information will be discussed further but in the meantime, it was agreed unanimously that we issue the previously discussed letter to all our local M.P.’s to point out the amount of people it will affect in all the local areas, as well as on a national and international basis and ask for their support on this issue. The letter also asked whether the M.P.’s would like to meet with us to discuss this matter further to clarify our position and intentions. It was agreed that Caroline would bring the letter up to date and arrange to have the letter sent asap.
4) Earlier release of away tickets. (R.N.)
Rob asked whether away tkts could be made available for sale earlier than at present. To get the best advantage for travel arrangements, it would be so much easier and financially beneficial to fans in terms of travel tickets, hotel costs, work commitments.
Mark explained that there is no formal arrangement between clubs and the FL for the actual start date of issue of match tickets. He would look into any possible options for us to pursue.
Mark also confirmed that Boro had sold out their full allocation of tickets that Barnsley were allowed to give us. Some internet comments had been made that MFC had possibly not taken the full available allocation. The slightly smaller number than originally mentioned was a decision made on Health & Safety grounds by the Barnsley H & S group.
5) HULL CITY F.C. No concession prices. (R.N.)
Rob confirmed that Hull City FC are offering no concession prices for away fans. This is due to the fact that they HCFC allocated 3 bands of pricing for ALL fans and they do not deviate from this policy. This is NOT something that the majority of HCFC fans themselves are happy with. Rob informed that the FSF have been trying to get further clarification from the club about this policy. Apparently HCFC fans are attempting to to get the Club to change their system to give concessions for their fans. Last season, these concessionary pricing structures were acceptable, in fact, the Premier League actively supported them and made the different match pricing structure a compulsory issue. Apparently, the FSF & Hull fans are now actively seeking to lobby the EFL to make the “concessions” clause compulsory for all English League Clubs as there is currently no rule in the EFL to give concession prices. Rob asked that we support Hull fans in their efforts to do this. It was agreed that we will do this with the benefit of a little more information as to the best way to go about it.
……. there is no further news on any ” disabled fans issues”
………P.H. asked the position re- arrests at Sheff Utd game. M.E. stated that South Yorkshire Police have questioned and bailed about 10 or 12 people in relation to the incident at the Riverside. All MFC information has been passed to the relevant authorities and we are just waiting for full enquiries to be carried out.
……….Mark was also asked how many Boro fans had been “banned” after being caught using “wrong” season cards (belonging to other patrons OR incorrect status of holder.) Mark said that NO Season Card holders had been banned but their season cards have been suspended for a designated time. Should they still wish to attend a Boro game during this suspension, they can apply to buy a match ticket at the correct price from the usual channels.
………The delegate from “Red Faction” suggested to Mark Ellis an alternative opinion on the “exiting system” of away fans from the Riverside. “R.F.” suggested that by holding the away fans back for a short while after the game ends causes a physical buildup of away fans and their frustrations and when the gates are finally opened, the spillage onto the open areas immediately outside that area is then of a concerted throng of “wound-up, testosterone fueled fans” wanting to vent that frustration on the nearest home fans. He cited as his alternative solution, the fact that recent visits to places like Man City, Man Utd, Aston Villa and other clubs where the gates are opened ten minutes earlier…and fans exit from their sections at a more leisurely pace and can often see lots of people trying to get away a few minutes early to miss traffic congestion – consequently not delivering the irate, away fans spilling out “en masse”!! There followed a short discussion of similar situations other members have experienced and it was believed there could be some sense in this suggestion. Mark Ellis said he would take away the thoughts on this and discuss with the MFC management, local S.A.G people and the Police and come back to us.
……Train travel opportunities prev discussed…… Rob stated that Grand Central have still not appointed a new man to deal with this East Coast football traffic opportunity. He will, though, seek a further meeting with the guy at Eaglescliffe Station to see if there is any other avenue we can explore.
Rob ……… ( and others ) reported that the train returning from Fulham had several problems and did not arrive back on Teesside until about 2.00am.
Dave …….fans supporting the homeless and foodbanks…. There is a meeting at NUFC on Friday 13th October showing how active footie fans across the UK are now helping several local “foodbanks” to generate food donations from many outside sources to help the needy. Rob suggested that he attends on our behalf as it may be something that we as a group may be interested in supporting. PH pointed out that Phil from RedArmy.TV had started a scheme last Christmas and was now a registered Charity helping the local homeless around the Middlesbrough Town Centre. Dave thanked Rob for offering to attend on our behalf and we can discuss it next month – in time for Christmas.
……….Parking issues in the news again…… Plenty of problems with parking around Middlehaven again with the roadworks restrictions caused by the Dock Footbridge now closed until next season. The last 2 home games were targeted by Middlesbrough Council Traffic Enforcement Officers and parking warning notices were issued to over 200 vehicles being illegally parked around the area. Mark Ellis has contacted MBC re- matchday traffic arrangements. His statement in relation to this is shown below.
Middlesbrough Football Club has contacted Middlesbrough Council in regard to matchday transport arrangements and the availability of parking within walking distance to the ground. The Council will once again review the situation and provide a list of available facilities for weekend and mid-week fixtures. This will be communicated through Club channels before the end of October.”
There being no further business, the meeting closed at 9.10pm.
Next meeting at Middlesbrough FC on Monday 6th November at 7.00pm.