This autumn marks a decade of work by SD Europe on implementing the supporter liaison officer role across the continent.
To celebrate the occasion, SD Europe has released a special edition podcast interview with the organisation’s head of SLO development, Stuart Dykes, and head of SLO training Lena Gustafson-Wieberg. The interview delves into the successes and challenges over the last 10 years, and where the future of supporter liaison is headed.
Since the adoption of the SLO requirement in UEFA’s Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play Regulations (Article 35) in 2010, SD Europe has worked on behalf of UEFA as a service provider to the now 55 member associations, providing them with help and advice on implementation, training and development, resources, monitoring and compliance. The SLO licensing requirement now extends to more than 1,000 clubs across Europe. With the support of UEFA, SD Europe launched the European SLO network in 2017, which now brings together experienced SLOs from around 20 countries in regular meetings to exchange best practice and keep up to date with the latest developments in the field.
During the last 10 years, SD Europe has managed an Erasmus+ project (LIAISE) aimed at improving dialogue and communications between clubs and fans on the one hand and the football and public authorities on the other. More information on the activities and outcomes of this project can be found on the LIAISE section of our website. Last year saw a landmark development in the launch of an innovative partnership between SD Europe and UEFA Academy to provide SLO training. Further, SD Europe has enjoyed observer status on the Council of Europe Committee on Safety and Security in Sport since 2016, providing expertise in all aspects of supporter liaison in the implementation of the associated Council of Europe Convention on an Integrated Safety, Security and Service Approach at Football Matches and Other Sports Events.
SD Europe’s SLO team working on the upcoming updated version of the UEFA SLO Handbook
On the future of SLOs, Stuart Dykes said he wanted to see greater professionalisation and recognition of the role, saying: “If Germany is anything to go by, we may see the development of university courses that safety officers and SLOs can attend in the area of Fan and Spectator Management. I think we will see greater recognition of the role, that it’s no longer a ‘nice to have’… that SLOs are going to be seen as essential, like any other member of staff, essential for the smooth running of football and matchdays.”
Lena Gustafson-Wieberg spoke on the necessity of the role, adding: “We need to make sure that SLOs are provided with the right tools and everything else they need to do the job. If you use your SLOs in the right way, there is a lot of time and effort to be saved, there’s money to be made and saved, and a lot of enthusiasm and joy put into the organisation.”