Lasse Bauer is one of two supporter liaison officers (SLOs) at Danish Superliga club Brøndby IF. In this interview he talks about the new partnership agreement between the main football stakeholders at his club, the proposed new ID card for away fans and the implementation of the SLO project in Denmark as a whole.
Your club recently entered into a partnership agreement with supporters, the city council and the police. What was the reason for that? In the last few years we’ve seen a big improvement in supporter behaviour and the relationship between the club, police and fans, but in the second half of 2014 we had a few incidents at our matches and so we decided to take it to the next level. The original idea came from the local council. The mayor pushed it forward and everyone accepted it right away because we had this common goal of creating a great atmosphere at our matches without any major incidents. So basically right from the start we all agreed that this was the right way to go; by we I mean the official supporters club, the unofficial fans, the club, the local police and the mayor. When we announced the partnership agreement a lot of media attended the press conference, and it’s been a huge success already. It’s created a forum where we can discuss certain incidents or exchange ideas on how to organise matches in a better way. Other police forces from around the country also contacted us afterwards requesting a meeting to develop these ideas for when we visit their areas.
As an SLO, what is your role in this partnership agreement? My role is to coordinate the wishes of the fans so that everybody feels they have part ownership of the agreement and can not only abide by it but also support it wholeheartedly. We had meetings almost every week between me and my SLO colleague Esben, the fans, one of the club directors and the security officer where we worked on the text of the agreement. In future we’ll have a steering committee with our CEO, the mayor, the police director and the leaders of the two biggest supporters groups and we’ll also have ad hoc working groups that I’ll participate in where we’ll try to overcome certain issues.
With regard to the fan card, is this still a proposal or is it going to be introduced? It’s still a bit unclear. The last I heard it was supposed to be introduced at all 12 Danish top division clubs by this summer and two clubs, FC Copenhagen and one other, might even start introducing it at some away matches this spring. FC Copenhagen have already had an away card for about seven years, so it’ll be pretty easy to introduce it at their matches, but all the rest of the clubs are due to have it by summer or by the end of the year.
How will this affect your work as the SLO? There’ll be a lot of work to do. Both our official and unofficial fans are talking of boycotting away matches from next season. It looks to me as if there’ll be a big, big conflict between the fans and the league.
So that’s going to put you in a difficult position, being the link between the fans and the club and the governing body? I know, but our club is very large. They know I will put forward the fans’ view, so I have to be up to speed with the latest developments among the fans and show our club and the governing body the opposition to the card and maybe work to find an alternative solution, if there is one.
How well would you say the SLO role is being implemented in Denmark so far? I’ve only been in the position for two months, so it’s a difficult question, but I’ve been around this club for the last 15-20 years and I can definitely see that the SLO role is being taken much more seriously now. Every club has one, I know a few of them, and they’re not just there to organise meetings between the security officer and the “problem” fans any more. They’re now a part of the club structure and operate as a serious unit within that structure.
How do you think the SLO work can be improved going forward? What would you like to see happen to make your job easier, better or more effective? I think it’s a bit too soon for me to answer, since I’ve only been here for two months. As I said, I’ve seen a lot of improvements in the time from when we had our first SLO at Brøndby to when I started. We are being taken into the club much more, in every decision. We have a meeting every month between the club and the fans, and other stakeholders attend as well. I hope that’s the case at other clubs as well, but I’m not sure it is. We haven’t had any contact with each other for an exchange of best practice and good ideas, though, so I’d like to see a network develop between the SLOs.