The SLO role has been a personnel requirement under the licensing regulations of the Royal Dutch Football Association (KNVB) ever since it become mandatory under UEFA’s Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play Regulations at the start of the 2012/13 season.
From this time the KNVB has intensified its efforts to help clubs and supporters to understand and embrace the value of the project.
More than ten SLO meetings have been organised in the last three years, some alongside safety and security meetings, to address the problems SLOs have been facing and identify solutions. At the most recent meeting the KNVB joined with club SLOs to conduct an evaluation of the three-year SLO implementation period.
The evaluation highlighted not only the progress made but also the remarkable differences in how the project is being implemented within the Netherlands. The working relationship varies from fully staffed SLO departments at some clubs to volunteer-only SLOs at others. In terms of the approach taken, some clubs focus primarily on security issues, others on supporter projects. There are clubs whose SLOs work only with hardcore supporters, while others prefer to target unorganised supporters. A set of challenges was also addressed by the evaluation, such as strengthening the SLO network, improving communications between SLOs, defining and professionalising the role, and developing tools to help SLOs and other stakeholders better understand their rights and obligations (e.g. SLO handbook, standard job description, accreditation, etc.).
Building on the points raised at this meeting, the KNVB came up with a plan for the coming season which includes the development of a localised SLO handbook in cooperation with experienced SLOs, the creation of an SLO working group and a new initiative for a national supporter organisation, and the initiation of constructive dialogue between the key stakeholders/decision-makers and supporter representatives. Consolidating the SLO network and running regular SLO workshops and meetings remains a top priority for the KNVB. The final element of the KNVB strategy is to intensify the working relationship with SD Europe and to integrate European best practice and experience to achieve optimum delivery of the overall plan.
Under Article 35 of the UEFA Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play Regulations, clubs across Europe are required to appoint a Supporter Liaison Officer (SLO) to ensure proper and constructive discourse between them and their fans. The SLO project originated in 2009 as a result of detailed talks between UEFA and SD Europe. It was approved by the UEFA Executive Committee in 2010, with SD Europe appointed to manage its implementation across UEFA’s 54 member associations. If you would like to learn more, visit the SLO section on the SD Europe website, follow the official SLO account on twitter or get directly in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org.