UEFA together with its partner Supporters Direct Europe (SD Europe) – an association of supporters’ groups representing fans’ interests across the continent – have published a new practical guide to supporter liaison activities.
The guide supports the work of SLOs, whose role helps foster an open dialogue between fans, clubs, national associations and UEFA.
Additionally, the guide highlights best practices for handling challenging situations encountered by SLOs, and provides useful tips and practical examples from existing SLOs throughout Europe. It centres on the scope of the SLO's role and the impact it can have on a club and its supporters.
‘The perfect tool’
The author of the UEFA/SD Europe supporter liaison guide, Tony Ernst, highlights its undoubted value.
"The handbook includes testimonies from national associations, clubs, CEOs, safety and security officers, and the police which emphasise the importance of the SLO role and its on-going success," he says.
"The content acts as a useful reference point showcasing why the SLO role is the perfect tool to handle the relation between supporters and other major stakeholders".
Supporter liaison officers (SLOs)
SLOs act as a bridge between football clubs and supporters, while providing a two-way flow of information on key issues. They ensure that fans’ voices are heard throughout their favourite club.
SLOs work with many different departments within the club – but their expertise focuses on supporters.
They require not only a deep insight into their club's fan culture, but also the ability to establish and maintain trust with a variety of stakeholders, including supporter groups, club staff, police, transport authorities, and their counterparts at other clubs.
Aleksander Čeferin, UEFA president
"Supporter Liaison Officers create the platforms for dialogue and communication between stakeholders, which helps to build trust."
Since 2012, the role of the SLO has been anchored in Article 35 of the UEFA Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play Regulations – a measure seen as a landmark in club-supporter relations.
This means that every club taking part in UEFA competitions must have at least one SLO to ensure the liaison between the club’s management and the supporters.
In recent years, national associations have also started to appoint SLOs for their national teams.
How else will the SLO guide be used?
SLOs are trained in a joint programme set up by the UEFA Academy and Supporters' Direct Europe.
The new guide is destined to serve as a useful tool for the delivery of the programme – a point emphasised by UEFA general secretary Theodore Theodoridis.
"Reflecting UEFA’s commitment to providing football stakeholders with a range of initiatives to help them develop as individuals with the tools to benefit their organisations, the SLO education programme reinforces a key role in today's game," he explains.
More information about the SLO training programme is available here.
The original article can be found here.