The home of Irish football, Dublin’s Aviva Stadium, played host to the second-ever SD Europe Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Sunday, November 18th.
Members and friends representing nearly 40 different organisations and 15 countries came together just over one year on from the establishment of SD Europe as an independent, pan-European organisation in its own right in the Autumn of 2016.
An Irish welcome
Chair Diego Riva opened the meeting by welcoming everyone to the Aviva Stadium and thanking the Football Association of Ireland (FAI), staff of the Aviva Stadium, the Irish Supporters Network (ISN) and Cork City FC for their assistance in the organising the AGM.
Diego outlined to everyone in attendance the ethos and ideals of SD Europe as set out in the organisation’s statutes. Consensus is a primary consideration, giving all members an opportunity to have their input throughout the meeting and 12 months of the year.
Acting CEO report
Next came the report of Acting CEO Niamh O’Mahony. Niamh first presented some of the many highlights of a busy year, including a meeting with Uefa president Aleksander Čeferin in April, a meeting of SD Europe’s SLO network in June and the final events of the current Erasmus+ CSBGiF project.
A new four-year strategy has been developed for the organisation’s work with Uefa, while further Erasmus+ funding has been secured through the submission of a two-year project named LIAISE to the European Commission. The focus of that project will be the development of the SLO role across Europe and it is co-financed by the Erasmus+ programme and Uefa.
Most of SD Europe’s Advisory board were present for the meeting with William Gaillard (formerly Special Advisor to the President at Uefa), Andy Walsh (formerly General Manager of FC United of Manchester), Kat Craig (CEO of Athlead), and Tony Ernst (formerly chair of of the Swedish Football Supporters Union), introduced to everyone in attendance and given the opportunity to share their thoughts on the organisation’s potential in the coming years.
Three new countries were admitted as members at the meeting, having been through the one-year waiting period required by the statutes.
Speaking on behalf of SD Scotland, Neil Bone said SD Scotland were delighted to be full members of the organisation and to have played a role in its initial development during 2015 and 2016.
Speaking on behalf of Belgium, Matthias Hendrix of GeelZwart explained that three organisations in Belgium had agreed to come together and represent the country – vzw Eskabee 1935 (YB SK Beveren), Act As One (Royal Antwerp FC) and GeelZwart (K. Lierse S.K.), all of whom have been in touch with SD Europe for a number of years.
For France, the Association Nationale des Supporters (ANS) were unable to attend the meeting; however, they confirmed their decision to become members in advance.
Diego then invited any members that wished to address the meeting to give an update on their own situation over the last 12 months. Aron Jovović spoke passionately on behalf of Za Čelik who continue to support the one member – one vote structure implemented at their club, NK Čelik Zenica, earlier this year – in spite of continuing challenges.
SD Europe board
Diego confirmed that the four initial board members of the organisation from last year’s AGM – Diego Riva, Sofia Bohlin, Shay Golub and Mike Derham – were remaining and proposed that Narciso Rojas, representing Spanish national supporter organisation FASFE, be approved to join the board. Sofia Bohlin then proposed that Diego Riva be re-elected as chair of SD Europe for the coming year. Both proposals were accepted.
Any Other Business
The SD Europe board proposed a number of discussions to get AOB underway.
Sofia Bohlin, SFSU chair, and Tony Ernst, former SFSU chair, explained how the SFSU had established a much-improved relationship with the Swedish League, a connection that eventually led to an ongoing funding agreement. Finance, they felt, is needed to support meetings and ongoing work but it was also important for the organisation to retain its independent voice on supporter issues.
SD Scotland’s agreement with the Scottish Football Association (SFA) was also highlighted. SDS works to support the implementation of the SLO role in Scotland on behalf of the SFA, and it’s proven to be a fruitful relationship.
Diego Riva explained how Supporters in Campo, the Italian national supporter organisation, also received funding to support the implementation of the SLO role in Italy.
Finally, SD Europe’s own Loukas Anastasiadis outlined a number of additional opportunities that presented possibilities for members and the wider network, while Supporters Direct’s Oliver Holtaway also advised organisations to look outside of ‘traditional’ football funding, as his organisation had secured support from a community development fund in recent times.
The future needs and requirements of members was covered in detail the previous day during a day-long Erasmus+ workshop; however, Loukas took the opportunity to share some additional insights from two recent member surveys. SD Europe will continues to investigate the feasibility of providing a range of benefits and supports to members and its wider network.
Diego thanked everyone for attending the meeting and formally brought it to a close.
Full minutes of the meeting will be shared with members in the coming weeks. If you’re interested to see how SD Europe might be able to support your organisation, get in touch with the SDE team.