Good financial practices are at the heart of every sustainable business and football clubs are no different as the partners involved in the Clubs and Supporters for Better Governance in Football project heard, dissected and discussed last weekend.
Having enjoyed an extremely informative three days that focused on good governance earlier this year in Manchester, 11 project partners and invited guests from across Europe gathered in Malmö last weekend (November 25 – 26) to hear a variety of speakers present around the topic of ‘Sustainable Finance’.
Project partners were surveyed at the beginning of the project to understand their specific needs around finance, and the two-day workshop sought to clarify and answer a number of key concerns, including:
- What do we mean by financial sustainability and how can this be achieved?
- What alternative sources of finance are available for organisations that are committed to operating in a sustainable, democratic, transparent manner?
- How can an organisation remain sustainable whilst at the same time maintaining an ethical approach and not ‘selling out’?
- How should extra community work (for example one-off projects) be funded?
- What’s the best way to monitor and evaluate financial performance?
Malmö FF hosted the event at the Swedbank Stadion, and their board member Pontus Hansson gave an excellent presentation to kick off a detailed discussion on what is meant by financial sustainability in football, while also exploring the different ways in which organisations can ensure they have a long-term outlook when it comes to managing income and expenditure.
The conflicts involved in ‘Not Selling Out’ as a members club or members organisation were the main focus of the workshop’s second session. Those in attendance heard about a number of initiatives undertaken by the Bundesliga’s Schalke 04 over the years, while Svenska Fotbollssupporterunionen (SFSU), the national supporters’ organisation in Sweden, outlined how their current funding agreement with the Swedish League (SEF) came into being and how it works for both parties.
Sefton Perry, Senior benchmarking manager at Uefa, gave an insightful presentation into the importance of – and challenges involved with – Evaluating Finance in football across Europe today.
Afterwards, he commented:
“We have been working with SD Europe for many years, but this meeting was a great opportunity to see and hear directly how national supporters organisations and member-run clubs at all levels of the game have developed and perceive football.
“I hope my presentation was equally beneficial to the participants as their contributions were to me. Sustainable and stable finances are essential for all football clubs regardless of their ownership model. We share a same goal with supporters: socially and financially sustainable clubs that are run properly.”
One key challenge faced by member-run clubs and national supporters organisations, as well as community-based organisations generally, is the process of identifying and maximising income from alternative sources of finance. The final session on Saturday morning focused on how emerging digital technologies and understanding how to connect people fully with your cause are essential in gaining financial support. A crowdfunded campaign, therefore, needs to be well prepared, have clear objectives and an organised support team.
Saturday afternoon saw two further significant areas of focus: funding for community work and how to evaluate projects. Andy Cheshire, Community and Education Manager at FC United of Manchester, outlined some of the many projects that come under his remit and the different types of organisations from which he has gained funding for his work.
The importance of evaluating work (and not just once-off projects) undertaken by clubs and national supporter organisations was also shared and discussed in a session led by Adam Brown of Substance. The overwhelming feedback was that proper evaluation is essential to improving future activities and retaining credibility in organisations. Substance will also help to evaluate the impact the Clubs and Supporters for Better Governance in Football project is already making for those involved.
The partners and contributing organisations (in Italics) are as follows:
- C.A.P. Ciudad de Murcia; FASFE (Spain)
- Cava United; Supporters in Campo (Italy)
- Conseil National des Supporters de Football (France)
- Cork City FC; Irish Supporters’ Network (Republic of Ireland)
- F.C. United of Manchester (UK)
- Malmö F.F.; Svenskafotbollssupporterunionen (Sweden)
- Schalke 04; Unsere Kurve (Germany)
Outside of our project partners, the workshop was attended by a number of additional EU and non-EU representatives including Za Čelik (Bosnia), vzw Eskabee 1935 (Belgium), Israfans (Israel), SD Scotland (Scotland), AKS ZLY (Poland), Association National de Supporters (ANS) (France), Sounders Community Trust (USA), FSE, CAFE (Centre for Access to Football in Europe), and FARE.
One of the primary objectives of the project is the sharing of information, ideas and best practice, so informal discussions and conversations continued throughout the weekend as partners and attendees sampled the local hospitality and engaged in the usual football banter!
Antonia Hagemann, CEO of SD Europe, said:
“It is great see how member-run clubs and national supporters groups benefit from this project. The feedback has been very positive and we look forward to further improve the way we all operate based on shared values and principles.”
Further information about the Clubs and Supporters for Better Governance in Football can be found here, while a summary of our first workshop in Manchester is online here. The project is co-financed by the Erasmus + programme of the European Union and Uefa.
Further information is available by contacting Niamh O’Mahony, Development & Media Manager of SD Europe (firstname.lastname@example.org)
About SD Europe
SD Europe is an organisation that assists democratic supporters’ groups in achieving formal structured involvement in their clubs and associations, and developing member ownership of football clubs. Established in 2007 with support from UEFA, SD Europe also advises clubs on their ownership and governance structure and works with football governing bodies, leagues, UEFA, and European institutions. Currently, it is active in over 20 European countries and is responsible for the implementation of the Supporter Liaison Officer requirement (Art. 35, UEFA Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play Regulations). For more information, contact us and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.