Middlesbrough Supporters Forum – Meeting 1

Held at Middlesbrough Football Club, RIVERSIDE Stadium, at 7pm Monday 6th Feb. 2017 to discuss the formal

acceptance of this organisation and its aims by interested parties with an affinity for the town’s football team and its supporters.

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

John Donovan Twe12th Man

Representative Red Faction

James Howell … (via SKYPE TV link) Middlesbrough Supporters South

Steve Rock Middlesbrough Official Supporters Club

Leigh Fisher Middlesbrough Official Supporters Club

Rob Nichols Fly Me To The Moon Fanzine

Dave Roberts RedArmy.TV – Sports Media Group

Phil Bullock RedArmy.TV – Sports Media Group

Mark Ellis Middlesbrough Football Club (Chief Operating Officer)

Yvonne Ferguson Middlesbrough Football Club (Supporters’ Liaison Officer)

C J explained that one of the main priorities of this initiative was to work closer with Middlesbrough Football Club whose experience and knowledge would be invaluable going forward as a group. An invitation to attend was issued and accepted by MFC.

So tonight we are pleased to welcome Mark Ellis and Yvonne Ferguson on behalf of Middlesbrough FC and look forward to working with them.

1). The meeting opened and all were welcomed by Chris Joseph, who suggested the original initiative to discuss with the various organisations supporting “The BORO” to consider the idea of a FANS’ DISCUSSION FORUM. This proposed Forum would seek to pool ideas, thoughts and discuss the many issues involved in modern day football, to seek ways to improve current methods, situations and any other ideas which may benefit and improve all aspects of our involvement in the game in the future.

2). The Forum group members would retain their own identity away from the Forum and continue with their own modus operandi in their relationship with MFC in terms of individual member’s issues, as has been the case so far. Should more serious problems arise, the individual GROUP can bring it to the MSF for discussion, advice and action needed to initiate a speedy conclusion, including formal discussion via MSF with MFC. Chris explained briefly his rationale and asked if any of the parties wished, at this stage, to add anything further. All were happy with the basis of the meeting to be discussed this evening. At this point, Chris asked if all were happy with the working title of Middlesbrough Supporters Forum as a vehicle to bring our aims to the general public, MFC, the football authorities and the media.

3). All invited were present.

4). All agreed to the suggested name, logo, and strapline ”the voices of Boro fans” and it was decided to formally adopt them.

5). Discussions re- a financial input for basic set up and running costs would be discussed at the next meeting but meanwhile, Chris Joseph and David Roberts agreed to check the cost of buying an Internet Domain Name for the new organisation, setting up of an e-mail link and a website.

Chris Joseph will also initiate the preparation of a “draft Constitution” for consideration at the next meeting of MSF.

Mark Ellis (MFC) welcomed the chance to be able to engage more with fans and the groups and saw the opportunity for the fans to get a more direct route to any individual problems noted by their group / forum for MFC intervention. Mark and Yvonne both commented that lots of small issues could be handled by simply sending her an e-mail with the details. Yvonne and her staff would take those on board and try to resolve the matter for the customer asap. This would leave the Forum time to discuss more significant aspects of the game within their meetings.

6 &7). Dave Roberts asked that all parties give a positive commitment to engage proactively to the Forum. A comment which was well endorsed by all members present. His request that MFC can assure us that the Forum’s recommendations be taken seriously in any further discussions with the Club, whether they agree with them or not, was confirmed by Mark Ellis and Yvonne Ferguson.

8). Rob Nichols from FMTTM spoke and explained how timely and important it was that we have set up this FORUM to explore the advantages it can offer. Currently the Football authorities are entering into discussions with the National Supporters groups and other principals in relation to issues such as:- safe standing areas – late cancellation or alteration of dates & times of games – TV coverage – Rail travel and loss of hotel costs – Coach travel and many other subjects within this heading.

Rob gave some very interesting information that he gathered on his recent attendance at 2 of the National Fans group meetings. He felt that all the issues were very pertinent to us and we would benefit from further discussions on this matter.

9a).The “safe-standing issue” was discussed in a little more depth as Red Faction was concerned that although no clubs in England or Wales had tried out “safe standing areas” as yet – he was a Celtic fan and had visited Celtic’s stadium on several occasions where they have an area set aside for this purpose. Peter said it is very popular and works very well.

Mark Ellis informed us of the OFFICIAL and LEGAL stance which denies Clubs in England the opportunity to trial this system. Different laws apply in Scotland, which is why it is being “trialled” at some grounds up there. Essentially, the law has restrictions on what type of “standing seat” can be used, but the main issue is in relation to the “reclining angles“ of the metal support frame and most importantly, the degree of incline and height of terrace step on site.

The RIVERSIDE Stadium has been inspected, but it cannot be said if “safe standing” would be permitted as the LAW as applied in England does not allow their use so nobody knows whether our facilities comply or not. This issue applies to every Premiership and League club in England. For any further discussion to take place, the most important point is…THE LAW MUST BE CHANGED. Mark Ellis suggested that if organisations like ourselves wanted to take that step, we need to lobby Parliament and the best way to do that would be to e-mail our local MPs. It was also agreed to have further discussions.

b). A request to discuss possible Season Ticket prices for season 2017/2018 was put on hold as MFC have a Board Meeting this week to discuss the issue. We will be notified of the outcome asap.

c). Loyalty Membership card. Red Faction’s £100 deposit “Save-Your-Seat Scheme”. For discussion by MFC as a future possibility.

d). There was a question on issues such as travel prices for fans via coach to away games, also ideas for train or even air travel costings. It was discussed briefly. Mark E gave us some comparative ideas on how the Clubs prices are calculated and reasons why. Rob said these issues are already being discussed at National & Regional level for group travel and problems caused when games are moved. This is a major concern that needs more discussion. Listed for next meeting.

e). Paddy C. raised a question re- away card season tickets for disabled members and Legal requirements for disabled seating at grounds. Mark E. suggested that this be discussed at the next MDSA meeting with MFC…which is to be held tomorrow night. (Tues 7th Feb). Paddy will report back to us.


There followed a number of smaller issues which were discussed with various simple outcomes, as below:-

f). Lack of concourse seating for “older /infirm” fans and drinks shelves for safety. (SR & LF) Yvonne F. said – It has been looked at before with fold-away seating but restricting access on concourses causes Health & Safety issues. Mark E. said that MFC had conformed to an Accessibility Order at the stadium last year on this issue. It is constantly monitored for safety considerations.

g). Music in Stadium area too loud. People cannot hear person sat next to them speak. (PB). Mark E said MFC had not had any complaints but he will check sound at next home game. Light Show on pitch creates visual problems for certain eye sight complaints. (Phil Bullock) Again, Mark Ellis & Yvonne Ferguson said no complaints BUT they will check into what can / cannot be done.

h). A couple of instances of “unhelpful / apathetic” attitude by some refreshment kiosk staff. (SR) Yvonne suggested an e-mail or phone call to her with specifics will solve that problem if happens again.

i). Fans exiting concourses and – causing blockages – stewards inaction. (SR) Yvonne again, call or email her as earlier answer. Mark will also check situation next home game.

j). Half time – queues for loos and jostling for space at kiosk queues causes congestion on concourses. Mark Ellis will look at situation next match.

k). Monthly prize draws/ season card draws / possible HT entertainment. (LF) Yvonne said she will look into current position but would welcome any new ideas anyway.

AOB. Chris Joseph to prepare and issue media release for Forum with comment from MFC.

It was agreed that the concept of the Forum and this meeting had provided a healthy discourse amongst all parties attending. Mark and Yvonne had been open and frank in their discussions and answers and all thought, and hoped, that this could be the start of a mutually beneficial arrangement for Forum and Middlesbrough Football Club.

Chris Joseph thanked all for their input and MFC for the use of the Guests Room and refreshments.

The meeting was closed at 9.10pm.


The next meeting will be held on Monday 6th March at 7pm in the offices of RedArmy.TV on the 5th floor of the BOHO 5 building. That is the 5 storey BLACK AND ORANGE BUILDING which is situated at the junction of Bridge Street East and Windward Way – the road that leads to Middlesbrough College from the Riverside stadium.