The home of one of the biggest members-run clubs in the Bundesliga, FC Schalke 04, hosted our ‘Clubs and Supporters for Better Governance in Football’ project’s third workshop recently (June 16 – 18).
Participants from 18 different countries and 38 organisations were present in Gelsenkirchen, and heard a variety of presentations, discussions and contributions from across Europe, the US and Africa. The feedback from everyone in attendance was extremely positive, and the key learnings will form part of the project’s online training tool (currently in development).
The event kicked off with a session that focused on Working with members and volunteers in an inclusive way. Presenting different considerations were CAFE, Centre for Access to Football in Europe, and FARE network, and there were plenty of questions from participants before everyone enjoyed an evening meal and some drinks at the Veltins Arena.
Saturday’s agenda began with a session on Managing membership, with presentations from Malmö FF and Supporters in Campo. The Swedish champions have put a renewed effort in promoting the importance of membership of the club in recent years, while SinC – Italy’s national supporters organisation – explained why they choose to take a ‘consensus’ approach to their work, describing why it’s vital to include all viewpoints and ideas especially in smaller organisations.
Schalke 04 outlined their membership and ambassador programme in detail, explaining that their preference is for sustainable growth of membership numbers rather than campaigns that peak and subsequently tail off. SFSU, Sweden’s national supporters organisation, also outlined the benefits and challenges involved with how they work day-to-day, placing a strong focus on the importance of organised working groups that feed back into their central board.
The final session of the second day focused on the challenges of Meeting member expectations. Participants heard from representatives of Cork City FC and the Irish Supporters Network, who facilitated a wide-ranging discussion on how organisations can prevent misunderstandings in their membership and face the challenge of working with members that are seeking to ensure their specific viewpoints are implemented and how to manage any subsequent dissatisfaction.
The day concluded with a hat tip to the organisation’s 10 Year celebrations. Having been founded in 2007 – with the support of Uefa – SD Europe is now 10 seasons into its work. Former director of communications at Uefa, William Gaillard, and project advisory board member Pedro Velazquez contributed to a discussion, recalling how the organisation came about, how its work with the European Union has developed over the years, its transformation into a pan-European organisation in 2016 and what may lie ahead in the coming years.
“Looking back to the years when the EU started to conceive a European Sport policy, I remember how reluctantly decision makers looked to the involvement of supporters in club ownership. The development of Supporters Direct throughout our continent has demonstrated how supporter trusts can have a positive influence in football governance. This Erasmus+ is making possible the exchange of good practices which are having a real impact the governance of football clubs and governing bodies,” Pedro Velazquez said.
The group was then taken on a guided tour of the Veltins Arena and had dinner in Gelsenkirchen city centre to complete the day’s activities.
The final day of the workshop saw project partner FC United of Manchester and a representative from FASFE, Spain’s national supporters organisation, and the Recre Trust share two very different perspectives.
Vinny Thompson and Jim Brunt spoke at length about their club’s focus on recruiting, managing and retaining volunteers, giving an insight into the club’s community ethos in the process. Narciso Rojas then shared the incredible story of how volunteers of the Recre Trust helped save their football club, Recreativo de Huelva, from going out of existence and have since become creditors to the tune of €1 million.
Before participants went their separate ways, there was one final session on the importance of evaluating work. Using the PollEv.com tool, Dan Ellingworth of Substance demonstrated how easy and useful it can be to get relevant information from a group of people while gleaning feedback from the workshop from everyone.
“As this Erasmus+ project has progressed, it has been striking to see the value and benefit of exchanging best practice and getting everyone together for specific workshops. Our project partners are changing elements of how they work because of what they are learning and understanding, which has been a key objective since day one,” Acting CEO Niamh O’Mahony said.
“The event in Gelsenkirchen also saw us kick off our 10 Years celebrations. We were delighted to have representatives from Uefa and the wider SD Europe network present, alongside our members, project partners and friends, and we are already looking forward to the project’s next event in the Autumn.”
For more information about our Erasmus+ project, click here. SD Europe was founded in 2007 and believes supporter involvement and community ownership makes football a more sustainable game. You’ll find more information here.