MIDDLESBROUGH FOOTBALL CLUB

Annual Charter Report 2003/04

WE introduced our Customer Charter in August 2000 and have proactively promoted its contents to the Club's supporters in a variety of formats over the past four years.

We publicise the Middlesbrough Football Club ("MFC") Customer Charter and our annual Charter Reports as widely as possible via our own in-house media and the external media. We have permanent places within the 'Fans' section on the Club's official website at www.mfc.co.uk. Highlights of our 2002/03 Charter Report were published in the matchday programme and on the home page of the Club website in September 2003. Copies of both the Customer Charter and Charter Report were also available by contacting the Club's Media & Communications Department on 01325 729916 or email media.dept@mfc.co.uk.

This season we focused on three priorities: improving our response times to communications from our customers, encouraging more youngsters to come to the Riverside, and making our players more available to the community. The following report reflects our work during the 2003/04 season in relation to these priorities, our Customer Charter, and the agreed recommendations of the Football Task Force.

ACCESSIBILITY

Ticketing

Season Tickets

This season, we again strived to increase accessibility to the Club, with a wide range of season ticket prices, from £340 (or £17.89 per match) to £500 (or £26.31 per match) for adults, while a range of concessions was available for those in the under-9, under-16, 16 to 21 and over-65 age brackets. Our season ticket prices increased for the first time in three years for the 2003/04 season.

In line with our policy of offering concessions designed to include our young and elderly supporters, this season we again offered season ticket price concessions of up to 51% for those aged under 16 or over 65. For instance, West Stand season tickets for those aged under 16 or over 65 were priced at £200, compared to £410 for adults. Concessions for those age ranges were available in ALL areas of the ground. Previously, a similar offer had been in place for all areas apart from the West Stand, but in 2001 this was extended to include the West Stand.

For a third successive season, we offered substantial season ticket price concessions to our supporters aged between 16 and 21, regardless of whether they were in full-time education, unemployed or in full-time employment. These concessions, which were available in the North West and South West corners, gave our supporters the opportunity to save between 26% and 50% of the price they would otherwise have had to pay for an adult season ticket. Concession prices in these areas were £250, compared to adult prices which ranged from £340 in the North Stand to £500 in the West Stand Upper. This special pricing policy, introduced in response to requests from our fans, was designed to help our young supporters continue to attend our fixtures during a period of their lives when money is often tight. It has been extremely popular with supporters in this age bracket. In 2003/04, 470 supporters took advantage of these concessions, compared to 430 in 2002/03 and 364 in 2001/02. This figure was set to increase to over 500 supporters for 2004/05.

In 2002/03, following discussions with supporters, we introduced new season ticket concessions for those aged under-9. In line with our policy of making Middlesbrough FC accessible to all age groups, this concession was introduced as we understood that parents were less able to pay our under-16 season ticket prices (from £200) for very young children than they were for teenagers. The concession, which was available in the North West and South West corners, continued in 2003/04, meaning that season tickets for those aged under-9 were priced just £110, an average of just £5.79 per game. This represented a saving of 45% on the cheapest under-16 concession (£200), which had previously been the cheapest option. In 2003/04, 180 supporters took advantage of this concession, compared to 89 in 2002/03, representing a year-on-year increase of 100%. The figure was set to increase to over 200 in 2004/05.

We had approximately 22,500 season ticket holders during 2003/04, some 1,500 of whom took advantage of our new, more advantageous instalments scheme. This allowed supporters who could not pay for their season ticket in one payment to pay through ten monthly instalments, paying an additional 10% of the season ticket.

Part-season tickets were also available until mid-February 2004. Around 2,500 supporters took advantage of our part-season ticket scheme, each enjoying the majority of the benefits received by holders of full season tickets.

Match Tickets

In keeping with our aim to offer a wide range of ticket prices, tickets purchased on a match-by-match basis for Premier League fixtures were priced between £22 and £37 for adults and between £14 and £26 for those aged under-16 or over-65. For many matches, our cheapest concessions (£14) were available in every area of the stadium apart from the West Stand Upper and East Stand Upper, therefore making up to 5,000 seats available at this price. Matchday ticket price concessions of up to almost 48% were available. For instance, under-16s and over-65s purchasing a ticket for the West Stand Lower for a Premium fixture would pay £17, compared to £32 for adult tickets.

Until February 2004, up to 8,500 tickets - 26.5% of the total seats available for home supporters were available to non-season ticket holders, thus ensuring that individuals could attend games as and when they wished if they could not or did not want to purchase a season ticket.

Our Premier League home fixtures were graded either 'Premium' or 'Normal', with differing pricing structures in place for the two categories. Our full price range for match tickets was as follows, with the Premium price first followed by the Normal price:

West Stand Upper - Adults £37, £30

West Stand Upper - Under-16s and Over-65s £26, £22

West Stand Lower - Adults £32, £25

West Stand Lower - Under-16s and Over-65s £17, £14

East Stand Upper - Adults £35, £29

East Stand Upper - Under-16s and Over-65s £23, £19

East Stand Lower - Adults £32, £25

East Stand Lower - Under-16s and Over-65s £17, £14

North Stand - Adult £28, £22

North Stand - Under-16s and Over-65s £17, £14

South Stand - Adult £28, £22

South Stand - Under-16s and Over-65s £17, £14

North West Corner - Adult £28, £22

North West Corner - Under-16s and Over-65s £17, £14

South West Corner - Adult £28, £22

South West Corner - Under-16s and Over-65s £17, £14

There were no restricted view seats in the stadium.

Away Fixtures

We often gave our season ticket holders the first option to purchase tickets for big away games. On occasions when it was possible that demand would outstrip supply, tickets were made available only to season ticket holders for the first few days of sale. Any remaining tickets were then made available to non-season ticket holders, subject to availability. However, on many occasions supply was such that tickets were made available to all supporters via general sale at the outset.

Cup Matches

It is our policy to price cup tickets at levels that will encourage supporters to attend games that have traditionally been poorly attended in the past. For instance, for our Carling Cup Second Round tie at home to Second Division Brighton on 24 September 2003, tickets were priced just £10 for adults and £5 for those aged under-16 or over-65 throughout all areas of the stadium in use, a very substantial discount compared to our Premier League ticket prices. For our Carling Cup Fourth Round tie at home to Everton, also of the Premier League, on 3 December 2003, tickets sold to season ticket holders were priced at £14 for adults and £7 for those aged under-16 or over-65, whilst tickets sold via a general sale were priced £16 for adults and £8 for those aged under-16 or over-65. For all cup fixtures, tickets are made available to season ticket holders first before general sale.

Visiting Supporters

For Premier League games, we made up to 3,000 tickets available to visiting Clubs for their supporters. Visiting supporters always paid the same price as home supporters in comparable accommodation - between £22 and £28 for adults and between £14 and £17 for under-16s and over-65s. As with home supporters with a comparable seat (e.g. South Stand), visiting fans aged under-16 or over-65 were therefore given price concessions of between 36% and 39%.

Postponed Fixtures

During 2003/04, two of our first-team games were postponed after tickets had gone on sale. Our Premier League match at Birmingham City, which was originally schedule to take place on Saturday 20 December, had to be called off less than an hour before kick-off due to a waterlogged pitch. The game eventually took place on the evening of Wednesday 3 March. Meanwhile, our Carling Cup semi-final second leg tie at home to Arsenal, which was due to take place on the evening of Wednesday 28 January, had to be arranged for Tuesday 3 February due to inclement weather. On both occasions, all tickets purchased for the original date remained valid for the rearranged date, while for supporters who could not attend on the rearranged date, refunds were given on all match tickets up until 24 hours before the kick-off. None of our first team games was abandoned during the 2003/04 season.

Encouraging Families

We pride ourselves on the friendly, family-style atmosphere of the Riverside Stadium. For first-team matches during the 2003/04 season, families were encouraged to purchase tickets for the East Stand Lower or the West Stand Lower. Club mascot Roary the Lion and other entertainers concentrated much of their pre-match and half-time efforts on these areas to add to the spectacle for families and particularly children. However, many families also took advantage of our special season ticket prices in the North West and South West corners for children aged nine and under and for 16 to 21 year olds.

Disabled Supporters

We continued to maintain our close, long-term working relationship with the Middlesbrough Disabled Supporters' Association (MDSA). The MDSA was consulted by the Club about the disabled facilities before the Riverside Stadium was opened in 1995 and we have continued our close contact ever since, ensuring we remain aware of the ongoing requirements of our disabled supporters. During the season, our Operations Manager and Disabled Liaison Officer met at the Riverside Stadium with representatives of the National Association of Disabled Supporters for a site visit. Further, Club staff, maintained regular contact with the MDSA Chairman, Paddy Cronnesberry, to ensure the needs of disabled supporters were being catered for.

Tickets for disabled supporters and their helpers were sold on a 'two for the price of one' basis via our Ticket Office. Therefore, the majority of season tickets were priced at a combined £410 for the disabled supporter and their helper with some priced just £340. A season ticket price concession that was equivalent to the one available for supporters aged under-16/over-65 was available to ambulant disabled supporters. For instance, ambulant disabled could purchase a season ticket for the West Stand Lower for £200, compared to £410 for able-bodied adults, representing a saving of £210 or over 51%. For match tickets, prices were between £20 and £27 for the disabled supporter and their helper.

Ticket Office staff member Simon MacDonald acted as the Club's Disabled Liaison Officer for the sale of all tickets within the disabled enclosure for both home and away supporters. When purchasing tickets, wheelchair users were able to utilise the low-level counters within the main Ticket Office, which also has a 'loop' microphone system for those with hearing difficulties. The Riverside Stadium had 60 wheelchair places at a raised level, whilst front row seats, of which there were 300, could also be utilised. A further 15 seats, together with space for 15 helpers, were available to visiting supporters. All positions for visiting disabled supporters were close to the rest of the visiting supporters. A number of the wheelchair places were sold on a season ticket basis, whilst others were sold on a match-by-match basis (20 available matchday). As with all seats within the stadium, the disabled enclosure was covered. Arrangements were made to ensure that stewards designated within the disabled enclosure had experience of dealing with the disabled supporters and many of them had received previous training. Supporters within the disabled enclosure were able to utilise the waiter-style service, which allowed them to order refreshments from the bars or kiosks without having to enter the busy concourses.

Visually impaired supporters were able to purchase tickets for any area of the stadium allocated for home supporters. As with other supporters with disabilities, a 'two for the price of one' policy was in place for tickets for the visually impaired and their helpers. For the safety of all supporters, but of obvious relevance to the visually impaired, there were white markings on all steps around the stadium's stands.

As recommended by the Football Task Force, 80 car parking spaces were available close to the stadium for the use of disabled supporters.

Also in line with Football Task Force recommendations, an email address, disability@mfc.co.uk, was available exclusively to supporters with disabilities who had queries on any Middlesbrough FC issues. All such emails, together with any other contact from supporters with disabilities, were dealt with directly by our Disabled Liaison Officer Simon MacDonald, who works in our Ticket Office. This special email address was promoted in our matchday programme and via the local media, including Century fm radio during the build-up to first team fixtures. An information brochure of often-asked questions was provided to all visiting Clubs to enable them to advise their disabled supporters about facilities at the Riverside Stadium.

Loyalty and Membership

Rather than run any stand-alone loyalty or membership schemes, it continued to be our policy to give our season ticket holders a wide range of benefits in appreciation of their loyalty. Since 1996, it has been our policy to reward our longest-serving season ticket holders (known as Red Book holders) the opportunity to purchase tickets for away fixtures in advance of all other supporters when it is anticipated that demand will far outstrip supply. In addition, we then give other season ticket holders (known as White Book holders) the opportunity to purchase tickets before any general sale. On other occasions, as outlined in the ticketing section above, we have made tickets for certain attractive away fixtures available to all season ticket holders before general sale.

Further, since 1996 we have given all season ticket holders a patron number prefixed with a letter indicating the exact length of time they had been a season ticket holder. This information was utilised by the Club for the first time when we qualified for the Carling Cup final at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium on February 29 2004.

We received an allocation of just over 30,000 tickets for the Carling Cup final and were therefore able to guarantee all of our 25,000 season ticket holders a ticket for the final as long as they purchased a ticket by a deadline date. However, adult ticket prices ranged from £32 to £42 and £54 to £64. The majority of tickets were within the two lower-priced categories but the majority of our supporters wanted tickets for the two higher-priced categories. We therefore gave our longest serving season ticket holders priority, meaning the longer supporters had been season ticket holders the better chance they had of getting their choice of cup final tickets. Tickets initially went on sale only to those whose patron numbers were prefixed with the letters S or T. Two days later, tickets were made available to season ticket holders whose patron number was prefixed with the letters B, C, D or E. After a further two days, those season ticket holders whose patron number was prefixed with the letters F, G or H had their opportunity to purchase a cup final ticket.

In return for the loyalty shown to the Club by many of our non-season ticket holders in earlier rounds of the Carling Cup, we sold remaining cup final tickets only to those supporters who had three ticket stubs from different Middlesbrough Carling Cup ties from the 2003/04 season. Unfortunately, we were unable to sell a ticket to all such supporters due to demand far outreaching supply. However, we felt that we had rewarded loyalty in the fairest possible manner as, throughout the competition, we had made announcements advising supporters to retain their stubs as they may be required should we progress to the final.

During 2003/04, all of our season ticket holders (both Red Book and White Book holders) also received the following loyalty benefits:

*A saving of up to £137 over the course of the season, compared to supporters who purchased each ticket on a match-by-match basis

*The same seat guaranteed for each Premier League home fixture

*The same seat guaranteed for the majority of home cup ties should they wish, as long as tickets were purchased by a well publicised date

*The opportunity to purchase the Club's new-look home strip in advance of its general sale

*Free subscription to the Club's official television channel, Boro TV Extra, for the remainder of 2003 (subject to availability)

*40% discount on bookings for a wide range of Thistle Hotel mini-breaks

*Free admission to our FA Premier Reserve League fixtures played at the Riverside Stadium (for non-Season Ticket holders, the prices were £2 for adults and £1 for under-16s and over-65s)

*Opportunity to take advantage of exclusive price promotions on merchandise at our MFC retail stores, with up to 50% off most lines

*A 20% discount on our usual prices for celebration parties, wedding receptions and Sunday lunches at the Riverside Stadium

*Discount offers on our guided tours of the Riverside Stadium and the Club's Rockliffe Park training ground

*A £5 discount on annual subscription to the Club's matchday programme

We are aware that many of our fans do not have season tickets but loyally support us by attending the majority of our home fixtures. We therefore decided to reward them for their loyalty for what is traditonally our most popular home game of the season. For our fixture against Manchester United on 28 December 2003, rather than make tickets available on general sale, we gave our supporters who had regularly purchased match tickets special priority over supporters who had attended our home fixtures less frequently. Supporters who purchased match tickets for either or both of our two home games preceding Manchester United's visit were given first priority to buy tickets for our game against Manchester United. Around 2,000 of our regular supporters who do not own season tickets took advantage of this offer.

We also recognised that many of our season ticket holders would have extra family members over Christmas who would like to see the game. In thanks for their loyalty and support, we therefore gave our season ticket holders opportunity to purchase tickets for friends or family for the Manchester United fixture before any general sale. Around 6,000 season ticket holders took the opportunity to purchase an extra ticket for the game, with tickets strictly limited to one per season ticket book produced.

To further encourage the involvement of young supporters, the Club also ran Boro Junior Lions for young Middlesbrough supporters. For a seasonal membership to this club, members received a variety of exclusive gifts together with birthday and Christmas cards from Club mascot Roary and the Football Club. Members also received free entry to FA Premier Reserve League fixtures held at the Riverside Stadium and 20% off merchandise within the MFC retail stores.

CONSULTATION

We have a policy of consulting supporters before making decisions on major issues which affect them. Further, we are committed to informing them about the details of and reasons for our policies which may affect them. Our consultation process is carried out both through small gatherings of supporters and, where it is felt necessary, via polls or surveys involving many thousands of supporters. There were several examples of these different consultation processes during 2003/04.

·A Premier League Supporters' Panel meeting was held at the Riverside Stadium on 20 March 2004 before our home fixture with Birmingham City. This was the tenth successive season the Club, in conjunction with the Premier League, had hosted a panel meeting to seek the views of its supporters on a variety of topics relating to the Club and the game in general. Chaired by a facilitator from the Premier League, topics discussed at the meeting focused on:

·Families attending football

·Matchday entertainment

·The use of foul language at Middlesbrough fixtures

We invited on to the panel supporters who had contacted us in the previous 12 months to express their views on one or more of the topics for discussion and, via our official website, invited requests from supporters interested in attending the meeting to discuss the issues on the agenda. We then chose 15 supporters who represented a wide cross-section of the Club's fan-base in terms of age, sex and location of their regular matchday seat at the stadium.

The issue of families attending football was a Premier League topic, but one which naturally had much interest for the Club. This also touched on to the topic of matchday entertainment, with the majority of the panel expressing a view that more could be done by the Club in this direction. A few ideas were put forward that the Club continues to consider. All members of the panel were supportive of the Club taking firm action against any individual or group using racist language, though they equally agreed the Club did not have a big problem with racist or foul language. However, all had experiences of foul language detracting from their enjoyment of a game. However, there was a feeling that the odd swear word in the heat of the moment was not to be condemned, though action should be taken against those persistenlty using foul language. This feedback proved useful to the Club, which has a very firm policy against racist and persisent foul language. A full report on the meeting was distributed around the Club and to those supported who sat on the panel. An edited report was of the meeting was also included our matchday programme versus Bolton on 3 April 2004 and on our official website.

In time, the feedback may influence our policy more directly. A similar Premier League Supporters' Panel held at the Riverside Stadium in March 2003 encouraged the Club to ensure that not only was there a bigger financial saving for season ticket holders compared to those who bought tickets match by match, but that this fact was made very clear at the time of our 2003/04 season ticket launch.

·Senior Club officials attended various supporters meetings including the Official Middlesbrough Supporters' Club, Middlesbrough Supporters South and the Sedgefield-based Supporters' Club. At the meetings, the officials took part in open question and answer sessions, responding to a wide range of Club issues. These included:

*In April 2004, our Chief Executive, Keith Lamb, attended a 90-minute meeting of around 100 members of our Official Supporters' Club at the Riverside Stadium, where he answered their questions and explained the Club's policies on such topics as player transfers, the Club's finances, ticket prices, and development plans for the stadium and surrounding land.

*On 24 February 2004, our Commercial Manager, Graham Fordy, took part in a Q&A session with members of the Supporters Club, discussing such issues as the Club's merchandising policy, kit manufacturers, the design, availability and distribution of kit, season ticket prices, schemes to boost match by match ticket sales, travel to away fixtures and matchday entertainment.

*In December 2003, our Media & Communications Manager, Dave Allan, attended Sedgefield Cricket Club to take part in a Q&A session with the Sedgefield branch of the Supporters' Club, answering questions on the Club's communications with fans, media policy, matchday atmosphere, community activities and website development.

*On 10 January 2004, our Team Manager took part in a Q&A session with over 200 members of Middlesbrough Supporters South at a meeting in central London. He answered questions on the Club's transfer policy, team selection, tactics and ambitions.

*Both the Commercial Manager, Graham Fordy, and the Media & Communications Manager, Dave Allan, met committee members of the Official Supporters' Club on a monthly basis at the Riverside Stadium to discuss a wide range of Club issues affecting fans.

*Our Academy Director David Parnaby and his son Stuart, who is a Middlesbrough player, took part in a Q&A session with 60 members of the Supporters Club on 16 March 2004, at our Rockliffe Park training HQ in Hurworth Place, near Darlington.

*Over the course of the season, six of our first-team players attended Q&A sessions with members of the Supporters Club at meetings held at the Riverside Stadium.

·For a sixth successive year, we consulted the Club's supporters on the design of our new change strip. For a third year running, a competition was initially run among the Club's supporters to find six models who unveiled a choice of strips. Our Media & Communications Department then conducted a poll among supporters giving them the opportunity to choose from six different strip designs which they would like to become the Club's change strip for 2004/05. The poll was promoted on our official website, the matchday programme, our official TV station and within the local media. Voting took place via the Club's official website and via voting cards available from the MFC retail stores, ticket office and stadium reception. A total of 6,000 supporters took part in the poll, with 25.5% choosing the winning design, which is now the Club's new change strip for 2004/05.

·Over the course of the season, our Catering Department carried out a survey among supporters on the Club's food and beverages served within the stadium concourses. Surveys were left in the concourses for supporters to complete and hand in to members of staff. Over 2,000 surveys were completed and a number of fans' ideas were being put into place for the 2004/05 season. These included a new chicken-in-a-bun product and bottled water, whilst the Club was investigating the possibility of introducing a hot curry pie, sausage roll and alcopops. Articles on the actions being taken from this supporter feedback appeared on the Club website during July 2004.

·Through the Club's official website, Riverside Roar magazine, matchday programme, Riverside TV (the stadium's matchday television show), Boro TV (the Club's official cable television station), matchday PA announcements and the local media we actively encouraged supporters to provide feedback on the Club, our activities and staff, either by post, email or telephone. On a number of occasions in 2003/04 we responded to this feedback by changing our policy on issues that were clearly important to our supporters. For instance, we received many emails from fans giving negative feedback on our new goal celebration music. We therefore ceased playing this music and during the summer of 2004, via our official website and the local media, actively sought suggestions from supporters for what goal celebration music we could play in 2004/05. During the course of the 2003/04 season, we also received a small number of emails from fans who did not want us to play any goal celebration music. In response to this, we decided to ask our supporters who completed the annual FA Premier League National Fan Survey what their view was on whether or not goal celebration music should be played at our home games. 73% of more than 1,000 of our fans who completed the survey were "definitely" in favour of music being played, with a further 10% "possibly" in favour. This convinced us that we should continue to play goal celebration music in 2004/05.

·In January 2004, we launched the MFC Book of Remembrance, recording the names of Middlesbrough supporters who had passed away. By recording the name, date of birth and date of death of supporters, the book allowed families to officially record the lifelong support of their deceased loved ones, allowing them to pay their respects to family members for whom Middlesbrough FC had been a passion. The book was displayed in the Riverside Stadium's reception area, allowing families to view their loved ones' details on the date of their deaths. This book was launched by the Club in response to requests from supporters over a number of years for a way to pay their respects to loved ones who had passed away after a lifetime's support for the Club.

·During June 2004, we also carried out a survey on our matchday programme via our official website. Over 120 supporters completed our questionnaire on the publication's content, its points of sale and potential future features, providing us with very useful feedback that will help to shape the matchday programme in 2004/05.

Information

In 2003/04, we maintained our policy of communicating with our fans via a variety of communication tools. Whether it was team news or issues directly affecting all supporters, we tried to make information easily accessible to supporters. Examples of the communication tools we utilised were:

·The MFC matchday programme, a 60-page publication available to purchase in and around the stadium at each of our first team home fixtures

·The Club's official website at www.mfc.co.uk

·A weekly emailed newsletter, relating to the official website, sent to 60,000 subscribers

·Boro TV, the official television station of Middlesbrough FC, run in conjunction with NTL and available in homes throughout the Teesside and Darlington areas

·Riverside TV, our matchday television programme, screened on TV sets throughout the stadium concourses and restaurants for four hours at each first team home fixture

·Public Address announcements around the Riverside Stadium at home fixtures

·Press statements and press releases to the local and national media, particularly the Middlesbrough Evening Gazette and two local radio stations, Century fm and BBC Radio Cleveland, both of which enjoy official relationships with the Club

·A five-minute bulletin-style slot on Century fm 45 minutes before kick-off of each first-team home fixture

·Ticket news in advertisement format on the back page of the Middlesbrough Evening Gazette each Thursday

·Key ticket and retailing news in commercial format on Century fm

·The Club's Media & Communications Manager regularly called into The Three Legends Football Phone-in on Century fm to provide important information to supporters

WORKING IN THE LOCAL COMMUNITY

Middlesbrough FC takes a very active role at the heart of the Teesside community. As a 'flagship' for Teesside, the Club has a position of responsibility and seeks to put something tangible back into the community that supports it so well. This season we continued to invest our time and energy into a wide range of community initiatives, some of which are outlined below.

Middlesbrough Football Community Project

Middlesbrough Football Community Project aims to enrich the lives of local people by providing access to first class educational and recreational activities. With two purpose-built centres, the project is designed to encourage the whole family to get involved in a wide range of structured programmes available. These are initiated and developed by a talented and enthusiastic team of qualified young people linked to Middlesbrough FC.

Middlesbrough Football Club is the major partner in the Project. Other key partners include the four local Primary Care Trusts, Stockton Riverside College, Sportsmatch, Redcar & Cleveland LEA, Redcar & Cleveland Miini-GATES EAZ, Learn2Work, Football Foundation, Middlesbrough & District Temperance Soceity and Coca-Cola. This season Middlesbrough FC provided Middlesbrough Football Community Project with funding in the region of £150,000, whilst the permanent use of the Riverside facilities including three classrooms, represented thousands of pounds more in terms of support 'in kind'.

There are three areas of activity for the Community Project - the Willie Maddren Centre, Middlesbrough Football Community Centre and its 'outreach' activities - all of which are outlined in more detail below. During 2003/04, the project as a whole had 106,246 bookings.

The Project employs a full-time Chairman of the Community Project, who is in charge of a team of full and part-time staff. All Community Project staff are now based at the Eston site. Employed at the Community Centre are a Project & Operations Manager, Healthy Lifestyle Manager, Development Manager, Senior Project Worker, Delivery Resourse Co-ordinator and a team of eight project workers. There are three duty officers and administration manager, admin assistant and three part time receptionists. There are also a team of development coaches and casual coaches.

Willie Maddren Centre

Based within the East Stand of the Riverside Stadium, the Willie Maddren Centre boasts three large, purpose-built and fully equipped classrooms including a state-of-the-art computer suite. Named in honour of the late Willie Maddren, a former Middlesbrough player and manager, the Centre opened in 1997.

Activity at the Willie Maddren Centre focuses on a tailor-made, two-day 'education through football' course which has benefited many thousands of schoolchildren over the last six years. From September 2004 this course will be condensed to a one-day format to make it more accessible to children throughout Teesside. In the knowledge that the football stadium is an ideal location to inspire pupils, staff teach a range of National Curriculum subjects with a football theme, with first-team players and Club staff playing an active role in each course. All courses are planned in collaboration with the teaching staff of the visiting schools with each course being evaluated with the aim of continuing improvement in quality.

The key areas of the course are:

·Literacy, numeracy and information technology, using the medium of football to motivate

·Good citizenship and addressing issues such as racism and sexism

·Working in partnership with the local Primary Care Trusts, placing great emphasis on the need for young people to adopt a healthy lifestyle, stressing the importance of a balanced diet using Middlesbrough footballers as role models

·Alcohol awareness and the dangers of smoking and drugs

·Football coaching sessions under the guidance of coaches with Football Association qualifications

·Guided tour of the Riverside Stadium

·During 2003/04, these courses were delivered to 3,345 children from 75 schools throughout the north-east of England - a figure very similar to the previous year - and included almost every school in the Teesside catchment area. The children were evaluated at the start of the course and re-evaluated at the end. These evaluations showed that the health knowledge of children increased by approximately 20% during the course.

·The course continued to be hugely popular with children and teachers, with the effect that sessions are booked up a year in advance. Many schools now book the MFC experience into their curriculum.

During the 2003/04 football season, the Willie Maddren Centre hosted a further 2,500 children of all age ranges on a variety of different educational courses. These included tailored courses on fun and fitness and citizenship. The centre also catered for adults, running training and skills programmes for the unemployed and those with special needs.

Some 600 pupils benefited from a concentrated weekly programme of in-school support to 13 primary schools in the Grangetown, South Bank, Eston and Normanby areas. Each school in the area received an hour of curriculum time per week for 30 weeks for every Year 6 class. This initiative delivered a series of health initiatives based around the National Curriculum and other initiatives designed to assist the transition process to secondary school.

An additional initiative, comprising six one-hour sessions, was delivered to Year 7 pupils in the three secondary schools into which the primary schools feed. The programme delivers additional health education to the same cohort, but one year later.

After-school Clubs were delivered in-school to the 13 primary schools in the Education Action Zone area. The programme consists of a series of after-school sessions tailored to the individual school's requirements.

From September 2004 the Project will deliver 'Fit through Football' to primary and secondary schools in the Redcar/Cleveland area.

The programme will involve a one-day course at the stadium, ten-week follow-up healthy lifestyle programme, 30-week behavioural reward scheme for a cohort of 12 pupils, after-school coaching programmes and evening sessions at the Community Centre and out in the community.

Middlesbrough Football Community Centre

Based in the Eston area of Middlesbrough, Middlesbrough Football Community Centre represents the Club's vision to enrich the lives of people within our community which, in turn, will create a positive profile of the area.

The Centre, which is supported by a partnership of Middlesbrough FC and Redcar & Cleveland Council, opened in January 2000. The Centre celebrated its fourth anniversary during the 2003/04 season.

The building includes a state-of-the-art indoor and outdoor football complex, enhanced by a sports injury clinic and two fully equipped classrooms. The centre employs two full-time and up to 30 part-time coaches.

The 2003/04 season saw a continued increase, particularly in family members using the facilities on a regular basis.

The variety of projects taking place at the centre this year included:

·A comprehensive Girls' Football Development programme, both at the centre and in local schools. The programme was launched in May 2002

·The Football Association's Girls' Centre of Excellence, also launched in May 2002

·The Soccability programme for the disabled, designed to encourage those with disabilities to take up football and participate at a level that meets their full potential. This programme was also launched in 2002. In June 2003, local MP Ashok Kumar won cross-party support for an Early Day Motion praising the Club's Soccability programme

·A partnership with Middlesbrough Primary Care Trust, utilising the sports injury facilities as an outreach centre for the treatment of patients requiring physiotherapy

·Family Fitness Programme encouraging fathers to interact with their children aged three and four. The parents also undetake a fitness programme. This has been developed to include a women only family fitness programme

·Fit For Work is a programme that takes unemployed adults and develops their health and fitness, computer and job skills

During 2003/04, local people utilised the Centre to participate in a wide range of activities including football coaching (for school groups and individuals, including girls and goalkeeper coaching), five-a-side football leagues, sports injury treatment, birthday parties and educational courses including computer literacy.

The Centre is a showcase for what a partnership approach can achieve, with Stockton Riverside College, Middlesbrough Primary Care Trust, Coca-Cola, Barclaycard, Sportsmatch, local authorities, the local education authority and many local schools working in partnership on a variety of projects.

Football in tbe Community Outreach Activities

Middlesbrough Football Community Centre has developed a highly successful "outreach" element, providing top quality football coaching to boys and girls of all abilities between the ages of five and 14. The "outreach" programme offers a wide range of football coaching for schools and organised groups including after-school, Saturday morning and holiday course coaching at various venues throughout the Teesside area.

This season we continued to deliver high quality football coaching and associated activities to members of the local community. The coaching sessions were delivered to a range of local groups and individuals across the Middlesbrough and Redcar and Cleveland areas. The majority of the programmes were delivered to individuals of school age.

The key attraction of the programme to individuals is that training sessions are delivered by Middlesbrough FC coaching staff and therefore attendees feel an affinity with the Club. In some programmes, such as the holiday courses, attendees receive prizes such as footballs, signed shirts, stadium tours or match tickets.

During 2003/04, we ran 58 sessions of our schools programme football courses, a marked increase from our 2002/03 figure of 42. These courses were enjoyed by 820 boys (660 in 2002/03) and 746 girls (600 in 2002/03). We ran holiday coaching courses during each school holiday, running 80 courses in all (66 in 2002/03) at centres in Eston, Northallerton, Guisborough, Redcar, Yarm, Middlesbrough, Stockton, Norton and Billingham. These courses were attended by 2,372 boys (1,455 in 2002/03) and 434 girls (171 in 2002/03). In addition, we also ran a Saturday Match Club, in which children attended a Middlesbrough first team game after a coaching session at our Community Centre. In 2003/04, this was attended by 1,246 boys (1,321 in 2002/03) and 780 girls (534 in 2002/03).

Soccability

Middlesbrough Football Community Project has a football development programme for the disabled. It is supported by coaches who have undertaken specialist training from the English Federation of Disability Sport. Sponsored by Barclaycard, its aim is to encourage everyone to take up football and participate at a level that meets their full potential.

To meet this aim a team of dedicated coaches attend many special schools to provide in-curriculum and after-school support. The hope is that this service may forge stronger football links within and between schools, in order to provide more competitive opportunities for all.

The Project has its own Soccability Club that is held within the Middlesbrough Football Community Centre each Saturday. There are two sections, for junior and adult members, within the Centre. The aim of these sessions is to nurture each player's enjoyment and participation within football. For those who aspire to the competitive challenge of football, representative teams are being developed. We have participated in several local and regional tournaments against representative squads from other professional clubs.

Football Development for Girls

During 2003/04, Middlesbrough Football Community Project initiated an extensive programme to develop girls' football. The programme is supported by Coca-Cola and endorsed by Sportsmatch UK. This exciting programme provides a developmental pathway for girls of all ages and abilities to take part in football.

At a grassroots level, we provide an opportunity for girls aged 11 and under and 11 and above to learn new skills in a fun environment. At the same time, we are developing competitive teams who take part in local junior league football. We have also joined forces with the North Riding County Football Association, to launch a Girls' Centre of Excellence. This provides talented girls with an opportunity to receive additional coaching support and competitive opportunities to nurture their talent. All the players are selected on an annual basis, with the aim of progressing them through to fulfil their true potential within football.

FOOTBALL FIRST

Lauched in November 2001, the Football First project places football at the heart of the learning programme, working in partnership with Stockton Riverside College and Middlesbrough Football Club, in some of the most deprived wards in the country (as defined in the top 200 index of deprived wards - index of local deprivation). The project targets young male learners (although not discriminating against other groups), primarily in the 18 to 25 age bracket and particularly those who are unwaged and seeking employment.

While this group is one of the most difficult to engage in education and training, many enjoy sport. Football is an essential and integral element of the Football First learning programme and recruitment, retention and rewards are all driven by it. It forms an essential, underpinning component in the learning programmes.

Football First aims to re-engage adults with the learning process, helping them gain qualifications, improve basic skills in literacy and numeracy, utilise ICT skills, underpin employability skills, improve health and fitness, and stimulate the learners to give back to the local community.

Guest speakers at courses this season included Premier League referee Jeff Winter, former Middlesbrough star and now local employer Jamie Pollock, Boro TV and Century fm presenter Alastair Brownlee and Boro TV cameraman Micky Carberry. All participants also received a tour of the Riverside Stadium, a visit to the Club's training ground and a ticket for a Premier League match. There was also a 'Student of the Month' award for a prize of two match tickets, a chance to meet the Middlesbrough players and receive a fully signed football presented by manager Steve McClaren before kick-off.

The project is based at Middlesbrough Football Community Centre and resources include a 20-berth PC training room, four full-sized Astroturf pitches and numerous grass pitches. The project employs a full-time Project Manager, four part-time tutors and an administration assistant. Participants take a six-week course, one-and-a-half days per week.

THE MFC ENTERPRISE ACADEMY

A three-year project, launched in 2002, the MFC Enterprise Academy is run by Middlesbrough Football Club in conjunction with Middlesbrough and Stockton borough councils. In June 2004, an extension to the Single Programme funding was being actively sought, with applications for revenue to 2008 being considered.

Based at the Willie Maddren Centre in the Riverside Stadium, the Enterprise Academy is designed to introduce 11 to 19 year-olds throughout the region to business and enterprise. As part of the Tees Valley Partnership's Single Programme, it will attract up to £1.9 million in government funding. Pilot programmes, initially concentrating on Middlesbrough and Stockton, started in January 2003, with 56 students from four schools successfully tacking the ten week course. All students receive an OCR Certificate in Business and Enterprise.

Up to May 2004, over 600 pupils from more than 20 local schools had benefited from the project. This included around 430 during 2003/04, an increase from 176 in 2002/03. A further 2,586 young people had been involved in other activities through the Enterprise Academy, more than 2,000 of them enjoying this benefit during the 2003/04 season. These additional activities included workshops, assemblies and visits to the Riverside stadium in support of national curriculum activities such as business studies.

Sessions on the ten-week course provide participants with specialist business and enterprise knowledge, improve their self-confidence and communication skills and help give them a better idea of what they might want to do as a career.

Partners in the MFC Enterprise Academy include the Prince's Trust, the Learning and Skills Council, business Link, Learn 2 Work, West Middlesbrough Neighbourhood Trust, Working Links, the European Social Fund and the Small Business Service.

There are currently ten staff working across the various strands of the project, with this figure set to rise if further funding is secured.

STUDY SUPPORT CENTRE (PLAYING FOR SUCCESS)

The MFC Study Support Centre, based within the Willie Maddren Centre at the Riverside Stadium, is a partnership between Middlesbrough FC and the Government. It is where primary and secondary school pupils, mainly at Key Stages 2 and 3 (aged 10-14), can learn after school and in the holidays. 2003/04 marked four very successful years of Playing for Success at Middlesbrough Football Club. None of what has been achieved would have been possible without the strength of the partnerships that have developed as these are crucial to the success of the initiative.

We helped over 1,000 young people this year by giving them the Playing for Success experience. This experience has at its core the aim of helping its partner schools raise standards across the curriculum, particularly in the key skills of literacy, numeracy and ICT, the foundation stones of their education.

Evaluation tools show significant gains over the course of the core out-of -school hours, eight-week course and indicate increased levels of motivation, enjoyment and popularity. This impact is attributed to a number of factors. The high pupil to staff ratio allows for a personal touch. That personal touch is provided by mentors who are recruited from the nationally acclaimed Meteor Project ran by the University of Teesside. The mentors guide the students through their course. Each of the students acts as a positive , successful and confident role model, nurturing each individual's potential.

The curriculum plays a great role, having a subject matter that excites and engages the students. This programme of work has evolved over the four years and kept pace with National Curriculum developments. The curriculum is designed to enrich the core programme at Key Stage 2 & 3 and has been innovative, creative and effective. A number of curriculum initiatives have been recognised by the DfES development team and adopted and included in the nationally distributed curriculum pack for rugby, Tackle Learning.

The Study Support team worked directly with 26 Middlesbrough schools over the 2003/04 academic year, providing a variety of courses ranging from the development of reading with year 3 pupils to journalism with year 10 students. The Study Support team also helped and facilitated the transitional phase from primary to secondary school, working in partnership to design activities that complemented and challenged the new intake of year 7 students.

The year ended on a high for our Playing for Success scheme when, on a national basis, the scheme received the "Big Tick" standard in recognition of the high standard of excellence demonstrated in organising and integrating responsible business practices.

Summer schools and half-term projects remained an important part of the Study Support provision. We were proud to have been the catalyst behind a once- in-a-lifetime education project, taking students to the Olympics. A number of Year 10 students attended a crash course in journalism at the Willie Maddren Centre before jetting out to Athens to practise their new found skills. This was only made possible by working in direct partnership with Creative Partnerships Tees Valley, who funded the project. It is the nature of such partnerships that strengthen the work we do and keeps our work at the forefront of education in Tesside and beyond.

Special Initiatives

Anti-Smoking Projects

On 20 March 2004, on the day we played Birmingham City in a Premier League fixture at the Riverside Stadiom, the Club supported and helped organise a unique anti-smoking scheme called 'Tackle Tobacco Today'. We joined forces with Middlesbrough Primary Care Trust to encourage smokers to kick the habit. The day of action focused on asking all smokers among the attendance of 30,244 to refrain from smoking for the day. In the build-up to the day, Middlesbrough players Gareth Southgate and Carlo Nash helped to promote the scheme and its anti-smoking theme by giving press interviews and posing for media photographs. On the day itself, Club staff wearing anti-smoking t-shirts gave out 5,000 leaflets providing smokers with advice on how to quit smoking, whilst announcements encouraging fans to stop smoking were also made on the stadium PA system and on television screens within the stadium concourses and restaurants. The pre-match and half-time entertainment, involving dozens of local schoolchildren, was given an anti-smoking theme whilst articles providing fans with information on how to stop smoking appeared in the Club's matchday programme and on our official website. The day of action also received coverage in the local and national media, helping to deliver the anti-smoking message to many more thousands of people. In June 2004, the 'Tackle Tobacco Today' event won praise from Public Health Minister Melanie Johnson in the House of Commons.

In support of National No Smoking Day in March 2004, we also teamed up with the Smoking Cessation Service to support an anti-smoking poster competition among patients on the children's ward at James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough. The competition attracted entries from children aged five to 16 with prizes presented by Club mascot Roary the Lion.

Teesside Hospice

The Club's official nominated charity is Teesside Hospice, in Middlesbrough. As such, we aim to help raise their profile and raise funds for the hospice. We provide Teesside Hospice with fund-raising items, arrange for Middlesbrough players to attend functions and help publicise their fund-raising events. This season we helped launch their 'Di the Duck' fund-raising campaign which raised £4,000 and the Club supplied a gigantic Easter egg which raised £800 in a raffle. We also gave the hospice permission to hold a bucket collection on the day of our Premier League home fixture with West Bromwich Alion on 5 April 2003. We helped promote the collection which, thanks to the generosity of Middlesbrough supporters, raised £4,500 for the hospice. Other charitable work by the Club during 2002/03 included supporting the Teesside Hospice 'Sunflower Chain' challenge, which encouraged local schoolchildren to buy 10,000 sweets, boosting the fund-raising efforts of the hospice.

Football Aid

For a fourth successive year, we supported the Football Aid fundraising campaign, offering our supporters to opportunity to bid to take part in an 11-a-side game on the Riverside Stadium pitch on Sunday 9 May. Former Midlesbrough stars Bernie Slaven and Mark Proctor captained the two teams. The event raised £9,000 for a variety of charities including children with insulin-dependent diabetes and for Teesside Hospice in Middlesbrough.

Barnardo's National Football Quiz

On 15 January 2004 at the Riverside Stadium, we hosted the north-east heat of the Barnardo's National Football Quiz. More than £4,000 was raised for Barnardo's work to help young people in the North-East threatened by homelessness, abuse, disability or drugs. Over £2,000 was contributed by members of the Middlesbrough playing and coaching staff who sponsored one of the quiz teams comprising Club staff. This was the second year we had held the quiz, having raised over £3,000 in 2003.

The FA Community Shield

We donated £3,950 - our share of funds raised through the annual FA Community Shield match - equally between Butterwick Children's Hospice, Stockton, and Teesside Hospice, Middlesbrough. The cheques were presented to hospice representatives by Middlesbrough Manager Steve McClaren on the Riverside Stadium pitch in front of over 30,000 supporters before our Premier League fixture with Aston Villa on 24 April 2004.

The Prince's Trust

We continued our support in 2003/04 for The Prince's Trust, the UK's leading youth charity, which exists to help young people to overcome barriers and get their lives working. Through practical support including training, mentoring, and financial assistance, it helps 14 to 30 year olds to realise their potential and transform their lives.

The Trust focuses its efforts on young people who may have struggled at school, have been in care, are long-term unemployed or have been in trouble with the law. Through their work, the Trust aims to combat social exclusion and unemployment, youth crime and anti-social behaviour, educational underachievement and low basic skills.

The Club provides support for Stockton Riverside College, which delivers the Prince's Trust 'Team' programme in Middlesbrough & Stockton. Team is a 12-week personal development course, which enables 16 to 25 year olds to learn new skills, gain national qualifications and develop the confidence to help them through life and into work. The course includes individual work placements, a residential week and a number of challenging team projects, which benefit the local community. In 2003/04, we provided support to the scheme by providing tours of the Riverside Stadium to all eight teams and providing six work placements at either the club's Community Centre or with our Corporate Hospitality Department at the stadium. Nationally, of those young people who were previously unemployed, 83% indicated on the post course survey that they had moved on to employment, further education or training. By supporting Stockton Riverside College, the Club has helped 108 young people.

Read the Game

Three of our players gave their time to support a children's literacy project, Read the Game, devised by Easington and Seaham Education Action Zone. Ugo Ehiogu, Gareth Southgate and Robbie Stockdale were the stars of a poster campaign supporting the scheme, designed to improve literacy in youngsters by using football as a stimulant. The posters displayed the players reading books alongside the message 'Whatever game you play, reading and writing always helps'.

Sport Relief

As with all Premier League clubs, we donated 50p from each matchday programme sale from our final Premier League home fixture against Manchester City to Sport Relief. The campaign aims to tackle poverty and disadvantage, both in the UK and in some of the poorest countries in the world. This represented a donation of around £4,000 by Middlesbrough FC. It was the first time in Premier League history that all 20 clubs had donated money from programme sales in one week to the same charity.

Football Foundation

In March 2004, Middlesbrough captain Gareth Southgate became the first Ambassador for the Football Foundation, the UK's largest sports charity. His new role, which helped gain national and regional publicity for the Foundation, involves him promoting their work particularly around the Teesside region. The Foundation is looking to launch an Ambassador at every Premier League club, but Middlesbrough was enthusiastic to be first. The Football Foundation is dedicated to revitalising the grass roots of the game, constructing modern football facilities, developing football as a force for social cohesion and as a vehicle for education in communities throughout the country. Funded by the Premier League, the Football Association and the Government, the Football Foundation has invested £96 million in projects worth almost £200 million.

Charitable Donations

Middlesbrough Football Club's charities policy is to primarily support good causes in and around the Teesside region. We lend our support to local causes by helping to raise their profile via community appearances by first team players and through the donation of signed items of MFC merchandise.

This season we donated £36,000 worth of MFC merchandise including shirts, footballs, books, videos, pennants and complimentary stadium tours to hundreds of causes from local branches of national charities to schools and needy individuals. These items were used by the organisations for fund-raising activities. We asked for all applications for donations to be put in writing for them to be considered.

Here's just a few examples of those charities to have benefited from MFC donations during 2003/04: Teesside Hospice, Butterwick Hospice, Zoe's Place, the Katie Trust, the Anthony Nolan Bone Marrow Trust, the Breast Cancer Campaign, British Lung Foundation, Cancer Research UK, Care UK, British Red Cross, Childline, Children with Leukaemia, Guide Dogs for the Blind, Great Ormond Street Hospital, Leonard Cheshire Homes, Leukaemia Research Fund, MacMillan Cancer Relief, Meningitis Trust, MIND, National Asthma Awareness, NSPCC, Rainbow Trust, RNIB, Special Needs for Autistic Children, Children in Need, Sport Relief, Sports Aid, the Downes Syndrome Society, the English Federation of Disability Sport, the Royal British Legion and Women's Aid. Other worthy causes to benefit from our donations included: Hartlepool Domestic Violence Outreach Centre, Abbey Hill School, Tollesby School, Winston Primary School, Great North Air Ambulance Service and Stockton Parent Support.

Roary's Children's Charity Fund, a charity run by the Club for local children's causes, purchased a number of items for local children and organisations.

Players in the Community

By winning its first ever major silverware in the form of the Carling Cup at the Cardiff's Millennium Stadium on 29 February 2004, the Club created widespread pride and a generally positive feeling among the Teesside community. We wanted as many members of the Teesside community as possible to enjoy the Club's success. We worked closely with Middlesbrough Council and Middlesbrough Police on a route for a Victory Parade through the town on 7 March 2004 that enabled more than 150,000 people to see the cup and the players who won it. All of the first-team squad and coaching staff took part in this Victory Parade.

We are well aware of the impact and influence Middlesbrough FC can have in the local community. Throughout the season, we continued to strive to use the profile of the Club, its management and players to support local causes. All members of the first-team squad are expected to make community appearances. To ensure a fair distribution of the community workload between members of the playing staff, the Club's Community Liaison Officer runs a rota system. All requests for players to make community appearances are processed through the Community Liaison Officer who co-ordinates any appearances by the first-team squad.

While the Football Task Force recommended that players should be asked to do community work as an alternative to a fine or other punishment, Middlesbrough FC prefers a more positive stance towards its community activity and actively encourages players to become involved by keeping them fully informed about the effect their time and efforts can have. In May 2004, Franck Queudrue was proud to be named our second Community Player of the Year in a scheme we launched in conjunction with our Supporters' Club. Queudrue won the award after making more appearances in the local community than any other Middlesbrough player during 2003/04.

This season, members of the first team squad made 224 individual appearances in the local community, an increase of over 100% compared to 2002/03 when the figure was 107. The vast majority of two-day courses at the Club's Willie Maddren Centre included a 20-minute Question and Answer session with a Middlesbrough player (except where fixtures or training schedules did not allow). Q&A sessions at the Centre were seen as an ideal method of encouraging and developing the skills of young players in the field of community work and many of the Club's Academy players visited the Centre during the season. Members of staff, including department heads, also gave up time to attend the Willie Maddren Centre and take part in Q&A sessions with children.

Several players also attended the Club's Study Support Centre to talk to pupils. They discussed with the pupils about "the qualities of a good captain" and then helped them compose pieces of discursive writing based on their discussions.

There were many good examples of how the players helped out in the local community through appearances coordinated by the Club's Community Liaison Officer or Media & Communications Department. Gareth Southgate helped to promote a raffle for the Daisy Chain charity by giving up his time for media interviews and photographs. The Club donated a range of merchandise for the raffle, which was held towards the charity's aim of raising sufficient funding to build a centre for autistic children and their families. In March 2004, Franck Queudrue launched a sponsored 'zipslide' down Middlesbrough's Transporter Bridge to encourage people to raise funds for the Anthony Nolan Trust, committed to finding donors for patients requiring bone barrow or stem cell transplants. Ugo Ehiogu, Stewart Downing, Chris Riggott and Franck Queudrue were among the players who appeared at our Football in the Community coaching courses to take part in Q&A sessions with the children on fitness and healthy eating. In May 2004, Stewart Downing presented trophies to members of the teams that finished winners and runners-up in the Middlesbrough Football Community Project's Friday League. The leagues were run for children aged eight to 11.

During December 2003, the first team playing squad also visited the children's wards of James Cook University Hospital, North Tees Hospital and the Butterwick Hospice to give out presents to youngsters who would be spending the festive period in hospital. The gifts, including selection boxes and small toys, were donated by Middlesbrough supporters, local companies and the Club through Roary's Christmas Appeal, an annual appeal organised by the Club. This was the tenth successive year we had organised this collection, each time culminating in the playing squad visiting the children's wards of local hospitals.

Other community appearances by players supported such campaigns as Premier Reading Stars to encourage boys to read books and a 'tiredness kills' message to warn fans making the long journey to Cardiff for the Carling Cup final, presentations were made at the Evening Gazette's Teesside Sports Awards, and charities were backed such as Barnardo's, Zoe's Place, the Everyman testicular cancer campaign and the Arthritis Research Campaign

In addition, the Club's official mascot Roary the Lion made more than 100 appearances in the local community during 2003/04, supporting a wide array of causes, helping them to gain much needed publicity.

ELIMINATING RACISM

Middlesbrough FC has a clear and strong anti-racism policy, designed both to prevent and deal with racism. Via our matchday programme, official website, stadium television and public address system, we made our stance clear to all home and away supporters. Further, we actively encouraged supporters to contact the Club in complete confidence if they had information about racist language or behaviour being used at Middlesbrough games. They could do this by emailing our Communications Manager at media.dept@mfc.co.uk or writing to him at: Middlesbrough FC, Riverside Stadium, Middlesbrough, TS3 6RS. Fortunately, incidents of racism are rare at Middlesbrough games, but we remain determined to ensure it is stamped out.

Further, it is our policy not only to tackle racism when it happens, but to act as part of the solution and take an active role in educating people, particularly schoolchildren, about the dangers of racism. In 2003/04, this policy included:

Kick It Out

We continued to work closely with Kick It Out in the fight against racism. In October 2003, we gave our strong support to football's National Week of Action Against Racism. The support was centred on our Premier League fixture at home to Newcastle United 18 October 2003 and included:

·In a highly visible display of support in front of 34,000 supporters, Middlesbrough players warmed up for the match wearing t-shirts sporting the anti-racism message "Let's Kick Racism out of Football".

·In the days leading up to the game, Middlesbrough players posed for publicity photographs in the anti-racism t-shirts. These photographs appeared on the Club's website, in our matchday programme, on on our official televison station, Boro TV, and in the local media.

·The Club issued a press release setting out its stance against racism which received coverage on our website, in the matchday programme and in the local media.

·Before, during and after the match, details of the club's stance against racism appeared on television screens in the stadium concourses and restaurants, while further messages were announced on the stadium's public address system.

·Over 700 of our stewards, turnstile operators, catering and administrative staff wore 'Kick It Out' badges throughout the day.

·Hundreds of magazines, fanzines, stickers and badges were given out to fans attending the game

·Before the match, Club mascot Roary the Lion and ball boys wore anti-racism t-shirts and displayed a banner with the message 'Let's kick racism out of football'

·Children attending courses at the Club's Football Community Centre in Eston were given strong messages about the threat of racism whilst wearing 'Kick It Out' t-shirts throughout the course

·We also displayed advertising boards with the message 'Let's Kick Racism out of Football' around the Riverside Stadium throughout the season

·On Thursday 16 October, Middlesbrough player Chris Riggott attended our Willie Maddren Centre to take part in a question-and-answer session on racism with pupils from St Mark's School, Stockton.

·Local media attended the session, for which all of the pupils wore t-shirts sporting the message 'Let's Kick Racism out of Football'.

·After watching an anti-racism video, the St Mark's pupils were challenged to design a poster or write a poem or short story on the theme.

·Throughout 2003/04, our education staff from the Willie Maddren Centre worked with pupils from more than a dozen local schools on an anti-racism theme.

·In January 2004, over 300 children from ten Teesside primary schools entered an anti-racism competition run by Middlesbrough Football Community Project. Pupils who attended the Project's 30-week lifestyles programme, which is funded by Redcar & Cleveland Education Action Zone, tackled the issue of racism in football and modern society as a whole, sharing their stories and experiences, before being challenged to design a poster, write a story or create a poem on the racism theme. Ten winners received their prizes in a special presentation made by Middlesbrough players Colin Cooper, Franck Queudrue and Andrew Davies.

·We continued our support for the campaign to rid football of racism. On the day of the first-team squad's pre-season photo-call in August 2002, for the seventh successive year we joined forces with the anti-racism organisation, Show Racism the Red Card, arranging for the players to pose with anti-racism banners. Posters of these photographs were distributed free throughout Teesside.

Dealing with Racist Behaviour

The Club's ground regulations recognise racist behaviour as a distinct offence. It is a condition for season ticket holders that they do not take part in racist or other forms of offensive behaviour. These regulations were posted on the walls at all entrances to the Riverside Stadium, whilst they were also mailed out with all season ticket renewal forms, in both May 2003 and April 2004. They were also included within the season ticket books sent out to 25,000 supporters.

To combat racist behaviour, the Club made announcements warning against such behaviour and actions the Club might take against such behaviour via the stadium PA system, Riverside TV (on the stadium concourses), Boro TV, the matchday programme and through the official website. We have developed a common strategy between stewards and the police for dealing with abusive behaviour of all kinds. However, racism is an arrestable offence and, on conviction, persons can be fined at be subject to a football banning order. Stewards look and listen for racist behaviour and language and point out any offenders to the police. The Club received two complaints of racism during 2003/04, both of which were passed on to the Police for further investigation, whilst the supporters were informed in writing that the Club took such matters very seriously.

MERCHANDISE

Middlesbrough Football Club changes both its home and away replica strips each season. The Club's home strip for the 2003/04 season was launched in May 2003 and would remain our home strip until the start of 2004/05 in August 2004. The away/change strip for 2003/04 was launched in August 2003 and was due to remain the away/change strip until the start of the 2004/05 season. We publicised the launch of both new strips and stated within our Customer Charter that we would change both replica strips each season. Whilst aware of the recommendations of the Football Task Force for replica strips to be changed every two years, we regularly consult our supporters over this policy at meetings of the various supporters' clubs. These consultations have supported our belief that the majority of fans are in favour of the policy. Indeed, many supporters believe the launch of two new kits is a tradition that they would be disappointed to lose. In support of this belief, we did not receive one single letter of complaint about this issue during either the 2002/03 or 2003/04 seasons.

As recommended by the Football Task Force, swing tickets indicating the "use by" dates of both new strips are attached to all shirts in the MFC retail stores. We informed our supporters about strip changes well in advance through the Club website, matchday programme, Boro TV, PA announcements, stadium televisions and the local media.

Middlesbrough's replica strips of shirt, shorts and socks for both adults and children have been among the cheapest in the Premier League for several years. In 2003/04, prices of all new strips remained the same for a third successive season.

STAFF CONDUCT

Equal Opportunities

Middlesbrough Football Club is an equal opportunities employer, a fact that was stated on all recruitment advertising carried out by the Club during 2003/04. We recognise that discrimination is unacceptable and have a formal equal opportunities policy. The aim of the policy is to ensure no job applicant, employee or worker is discriminated against either directly or indirectly on the grounds of race, colour, ethnic or national origin, religious belief, political opinion or affiliation, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, gender, reassignment, age or disability.

We ensure that the policy is circulated to any agencies responsible for our recruitment and a copy of the policy is made available to all employees and made known to all applicants for employment. The policy is communicated to all private contractors reminding them of their responsibilities towards the equality of opportunity. It is our stated intention to maintain a neutral woring environment in which no employee or worker feels under threat or intimidated.

The recruitment and selection process is crucially important to any equal opportunities policy. We endeavour through appropriate training to ensure that employees making selection and recruitment decisions do not discriminate, whether consciously or unconsciously, in making these decisions. Promotion and advancement are made on merit and all decisions relating to this are made within the overall framework and principles of this policy. We adopt a consistent, non-discriminatory approach to the advertising of vacancies and do not confine our recruitment to areas or media sources which provide only, or mainly, applicants of a particular group. It is our policy that all applicants who apply for jobs with us receive fair treatment and are considered solely on their ability to do the job. Short-listing and recruitment is carried out by more than one person. Interview questions are related to the requirements of the job and are not of a discriminatory nature. We do not disqualify any applicant because they are unable to complete an application form unassisted, unless personal completion of the form is a valid test of the standard of English required for the safe and effective performance of the job. Selection decisions are not influenced by any perceived prejudices of other staff.

In July 2004, 50 senior members of the Club's full-time staff attended a three-hour equal opportunities lecture from the company, Peninsula, covering equal opportunities legislation and measures to take to avoid discrimination of any sort.

CUSTOMER SERVICES

Reporting and Monitoring

When customers contacted us with feedback or complaints, they were directed either to the manager of whichever department their comments referred to or to the Media & Communications Department (01325 729916 or media.dept@mfc.co.uk) who responded in writing and/or, where appropriate, by telephone, having first consulted with the manager of the relevant department. We aimed to respond to all emails and letters within a maximum of seven working days, with an initial letter of acknowledgement sent out by return when appropriate. However, at least one member of the Media & Communications Department was available for customer services between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday each week (apart from Bank Holidays) and from five-and-a-half hours before kick-off on weekend matchdays.

Details of repeated complaints were discussed at weekly and monthly meetings of the various department heads and action was taken where it was felt appropriate.

The Media and Communications Department recorded and monitored all supporters' letters and emails. It was our aim to respond to letters and emails within seven working days. This season, 93% were responded to within our target time, an increase of 4% compared to the 2002/03 season and 17% compared to 2001/02. Indeed, 83% of all letters and emails were responded to within three working days. Where a full response was not possible within seven working days, it was our policy that a letter of acknowledgement should be sent. We have a commitment to improve all of these figures during the 2004/05 season.

During 2003/04, we received just one complaint about staff conduct. This was received by the Media & Communications Department and referred to the relevant head of department, who discussed the nature of the complaint with the individual in question before the complainant was sent a full response. An apology was sent and the members of staff were reminded about the Club's policy regarding customer service.

During the past three years, 50 members of the Club staff at all levels have completed a 12-week, two hours a week customer service course, culminating in an examination to achieve a Certificate in Customer Care from training company, Future Strategies. More recently, ten members of the Club's retail and administration staff have taken an NVQ course in Retail and Business Administration, which included customer care as a module. In-house and on-the-job training is carried out for all new staff on an ongoing basis.