SD Europe is an organisation that assists democratic supporters’ groups in achieving formal structured involvement in their clubs and associations, and develops member ownership of football clubs. Currently, it is active in over 38 European countries.
SD Europe: What we do
- Help democratic supporters’ groups across Europe increase their influence over the game.
- Advise local and national supporters’ groups, clubs and governing bodies on governance and ownership models.
- Encourage increased dialogue between groups across Europe and also between UEFA and its stakeholders, including its members associations and other football organisations, the European Commission and Parliament.
Supporters’ groups and clubs affiliated to SD Europe must meet the following criteria:
- Overall the group must aim to improve the relationship between the club and its fans.
- It must aim to exercise influence in the running of the club to improve its operations through share ownership, board representation and / or other formal and / or informal relationships to the club.
- It must be democratic, with one member having one vote.
- It must be an inclusive organisation.
- It must be accountable, transparent and open.
- It has to be committed to non-violence, non-discrimination and equal opportunities.
- It must be committed to non-distribution of profit.
Improving Football Governance through Supporter Involvement and Community Ownership
Between March 2012 and June 2013 Supporters Direct Europe, along with eight fans’ organisations and Cooperatives Europe, took part in a European Commission-funded project under the Preparatory Action in the Field of Sport (EAC/18/2011). The project, entitled ‘Improving Football Governance through Supporter Involvement and Community Ownership’ was in the area of good governance in sport.
The project had the following key outcomes:
- Overall, the project helped build capacity on the national and European levels, creating strong partners in dialogue with football governing bodies and other stakeholders. In turn, this helped promote good governance through democratic supporters’ involvement, in line with EU values.
- As well as strengthening the network of supporter ownership in Europe through the identification and sharing of best practice and lessons learnt, eight partners undertook the production of a ‘handbook’ for their country, in its native language. These documents will provide a key resource for supporters’ trusts/groups and mutually owned clubs in the future.
- Six partners also held national workshops aimed at their members and training in areas such as: setting up democratic supporter organisations, fundraising, community work, membership and legal frameworks; but also how to build capacity, lobby and raise awareness amongst stakeholders and develop a long-term vision for good governance in football in each country and beyond.
Social research cooperative Substance prepared the project’s final report, which is available in English, French and German within our Resource section. The report provides a benchmark for future developments in good governance, policy development, and research.
“Active citizenship and a culture of participation are essential to our daily lives in Europe. Sport is a field where this is both prominent and effective. Supporters not only invest countless hours to support and volunteer for their clubs, but also help to build a spirit within their community. As active citizens and as key stakeholders, supporters should be formally involved within the sport movement. Supporters Direct Europe shows how fans can help to develop inclusive and sustainable structures at both the grassroots and professional levels, thus giving life to the concept of active citizenship.” – Androulla Vassiliou (former European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism, Sport, Media and Youth)
“UEFA recognises that fans are a fundamental part of the identity of football clubs, and backs the work of SD Europe to encourage good governance within clubs across the continent through its initiatives to involve fans in the ownership and running of their teams.” – UEFA
“Supporters’ organisations often contribute to active citizenship and democracy, especially by reaching out to young people who are not always involved in other civil society structures… The supporter movement’s contribution to active citizenship and democracy can be strengthened through official recognition at club level. A formalised involvement of supporters can reinforce the governance and financial stability of clubs.” – European Commission, The White Paper on Sport, Staff Working Paper
“Transparency and democratic accountability at sports clubs can be improved by the involvement of supporters in the ownership structure and governance of their clubs… Member States and sports governing bodies are to actively stimulate the social and democratic role of sports fans who support the principles of fair play, by promoting their involvement in the ownership and governance structures at their sports clubs and as important stakeholders in sports governing bodies.” – European Parliament, Report on the European Dimension of Sport (The ‘Fisas’ Report)
“Supporters Direct Europe could enhance the contribution fans can make to a wider agenda of ensuring that clubs are financially stable by ensuring they conform to good governance.” – UEFA and SD, What is the Feasibility of a Supporters Direct Europe?