“It further formalises the close cooperation which is beneficial for both the club and the wider fan community.”
SD Europe covers a wide range of mechanisms to help supporters have influence in the running of their football clubs, be it through the member-run model, structured dialogue or supporter liaison.
Another effective method to ensure supporters and football clubs can work closely together with trust is through fan-elected board members on football club boards. Their purpose is to represent the views of supporters at board level, giving them influence in how the football club is run.
Since the “European Super League” fiasco, this method of supporter influence has been discussed widely. However, this form of supporter influence has quietly spread across Europe over the last decade or so and is now implemented at a plethora of football clubs across the continent (listen to our podcast on fan representation on the board of Scottish club St. Mirren FC here).
One of those clubs is Brøndby IF, whose supporters are currently going through the process of electing a new fan representative to join the board of the football club who will be selected in March.
In the first of a two-part interview, Lasse Bauer, a devoted Brøndby supporter and member of SD Europe’s board, gives us an insight into how the fan representative board role works at his club.
Lasse was the Chairman of Fanafdelingen i Brøndbyernes IF (the Fan Department at Brøndby IF) from 2019 and to 2021. Before that he was the lead SLO at the club from 2014 to 2019. The Fanafdelingen was founded in 2019 to combine the work of the Brøndby Supporters Trust and other fan groups after the fans secured a seat on the board of the football club which is enshrined into its statutes.
Broadly speaking, how does the supporter representative at Brondby IF give fans influence?
“The fan representative gives the fans a direct voice at the board level and more importantly in informal discussions among board members. With the fan department as the backing organisation, the fan representative has a direct link into the wider fanbase’s wishes and agendas.
In short, it gives the supporter perspective in discussions regarding the running of our club and the direction it is going in”.
How long has Brondby IF had a fan representative and why was it originally implemented?
“The predecessor of Fanafdelingen, the Brondby Supporters Trust, had an agreement with the owner for a seat on the board, but it was formalised with a change in statutes and the creation of Fanafdelingen in 2019. Brøndby has a long tradition of involving fans and keeping a close relationship between fans and the club management. So this was the natural next step from organised fan meetings, cooperation and hiring multiple supporter liaison officers”.
What does the fan representative do on a weekly basis? Are they available for supporters to contact?
“He’s very visual on matchdays and speaks to fan groups to hear what they have to say, he then represents the views of the members on the football club board. But he also participating at the board meetings of the Fanafdelingen and in fan-related matters in and around the club too.”
How does the election process work? Who can take part in it?
“Every member of Fanafdelingen can run for election. Fanafdelingen is open for every Brøndby fan for an annual fee of 100 DKK (roughly 15€) per year. Those elected can then serve a maximum of four years as the fan representative..
The candidates will be chosen at the AGM before a home game in March from members of Fanafdelingen. The elected representative will then join the board of the football club.”
What benefits do you feel as a supporter by having a supporter representative?
“Even though Brøndby fans have long been involved in our club, it has accelerated a lot of the initiatives we have seen around Brøndby. New fan-oriented investments in fan lounges, family lounges and our new large fanzone (featured in UEFA`s new SLO practical guide). It has dramatically increased the fan experience on matchdays and kept the close bond between fans and the club administration and fits great with our SLO team.”
What would your advice be to other football clubs who do not have a fan representative?
“For clubs that won’t in the foreseeable future be fan-owned, it’s a great way for fans to have influence on higher levels and massively complements the work of SLOs. It further formalises the close cooperation which is beneficial for both the club and the wider fan community.
There’s a lot of best practice around Europe to learn from. One thing that’s really changed everything is the awareness in fan groups. All of a sudden it raises the debate on what type of football club you want your club to be. It goes from a matchday-oriented experience to a community approach and makes you feel more involved as equals.”
In the second part of this interview, SD Europe will speak to the successful candidate in the election which will come in spring.
Thank you to Lasse Bauer and Brøndby IF.
Get in touch with SD Europe here to find out more about fan representation on football club boards.