The SD Europe has helped to implement the Supporter Liaison Officer (SLO) role since 2010 and there are often common questions asked by anyone trying to understand the role better.
Does my club have to have an SLO?
UEFA requires that at least the clubs that play in its competitions (the Champions League and the Europe League) have an SLO. Most National Associations extend this criteria to all top tier clubs while others go even further and require a SLO from all clubs up to the 4th tier.
So, if your club applies for a licence to play in a UEFA competition then it does have to have an SLO. Otherwise, you can check with your club (we recommend that the SLO contact details are publicly available on the club’s website) or with your national football association/league.
Who do I contact to find out about the SLO? SD Europe, my club or UEFA?
In the first instance you should contact your club, and if this proves unsuccessful, the SLO coordinator for the national association/league in which your club play.
How do I contact the SLO of another club?
Our recommendation is that the contact details of the SLOs are publicly available on the club’s website. If you can’t find them, you can ask for help from the relevant national football association/league or send an email to slo [at] supporters-direct.coop.
What is a National SLO Coordinator?
Each national club licensing body has appointed one person as a SLO coordinator responsible for the management, coordination, development and monitoring of the project at domestic level. In most cases, the licensing body is the football association, though in some countries it is the league (e.g. Germany, Switzerland, Austria, England, Sweden, Denmark, France).
What are SD Europe doing to spread the message about SLOs? What is your jurisdiction at national level?
SD Europe are working with football governing bodies in all 54 UEFA member countries to develop the SLO initiative. This involves producing the UEFA SLO handbook, numerous toolkits for use by national associations and SLOs and a regular newsletter for all 54 SLO coordinators and licensing managers. We also assist with training at dedicated seminars and workshops and help national associations to spread best practice at bilateral SLO meetings before Champions League and Europa League matches, for example. SD Europe manage the official SLO twitter account (@SuppLiaison #fanliaison #SLO).We have no jurisdiction at national level and our assistance is limited to advising the national SLO Coordinators and assisting them as they see fit.
How can I become a SLO?
You should contact your club, as there is no set procedure for appointing an SLO. Often, suitable candidates will “suggest themselves” as they will have been involved in dealing with their club for several years. Some clubs may advertise the post, some will make an appointment after consulting with the main supporter groups, while others will appoint direct as they would for any other position.
Should the SLO be a genuine supporter or an existing staff member?
It is down to the club to decide who they appoint as the SLO. Some will decide to appoint an existing member of staff, others will choose someone from the fan base. Whoever fulfils the role, it is important that they understand the needs and wants of supporters. SD Europe take the view that supporters have an expertise and knowledge of supporter issues that is not ordinarily available on the marketplace and this is why we recommend the appointment of a genuine supporter for the role.
What is the profile of a good SLO?
Credibility is the key attribute. The SLO must establish relations and have the trust of the various stakeholders, such as the club, the fans, safety officers and stewards, and the police. They should be independent of the club board and ideally not hold any positions in a supporter organisation once appointed. The three main areas of work where they should be competent are: dialogue (managing the flow of communications between fans and the club and other stakeholders), service (assisting and advising fans and clubs etc.), and prevention (liaising with safety officers, police and stewards to minimise conflict).
How do SLOs work with supporters’ organisations – are they a threat to the relationship of my trust/supporters club/ultra group with the club?
The role of the SLO is to facilitate dialogue, not lead it. SLOs should work with all supporter groups as well as individual fans. SLOs should not pose a threat to any supporter group. On the contrary, they exist to improve the dialogue and relationships between fans and clubs, and supporter groups should actively consider putting forward one of their members for the role. SLOs are employed/appointed by the club and are not supporter representatives.