At the suggestion of SD Europe, the French Football League (LFP) organised a very successful 90-minute bilateral SLO meeting in Paris ahead of the Champions League group game between PSG and Celtic on November 22nd.
Around 40 attendees, including SLOs and safety officers from 15 clubs (nine first division and six second division), plus representatives of the LFP, the French Football Federation (FFF), ANS (Association Nationale des Supporters), PSG supporters, the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Sport, heard presentations from lead Celtic SLO JP Taylor and Stuart Dykes, Head of SLO Implementation at SD Europe.
JP’s presentation on his work at Celtic was very well received and drew lots of comment from an interested audience keen to learn more about the practicalities of the job. Communication is a key part of the SLO role, and JP makes excellent use of social media to impart information to supporters. The club’s dedicated SLO Twitter account, for example, has nearly 29,000 followers and when information changes rapidly, especially on match days, Twitter is a very useful medium of communication.
On average the Celtic SLO receives around 1,000 emails every week, sending about 700. This is a significant number, but the club believes that the central, independent role carried out by the SLO allows for this to be managed in an effective manner. It also means that the SLO works in partnership with all other club departments and is able to effectively filter enquiries to the appropriate persons, thus allowing for a quicker turnaround time.
JP Taylor addresses the room in Paris
“The SLO role is now pivotal to the day-to-day running of the business,” JP said. “By keeping fully up to speed and assisting with fan issues, the SLO is the link between the fans, the Executive, departmental functions and external services such as police, and continuously acts to ensure our fans are kept informed, while challenging for the best possible service and assistance.”
JP concluded by explaining his role on match days, be it home or away, domestic or Europe, and in particular how he communicates with the opposition SLO and external parties, such as the police.
Commenting for SD Europe, Stuart Dykes said: “This bilateral meeting was an important step forward in the development of the SLO work in France as well as dialogue between the football authorities and supporters. Hopefully, it will be first of many more.
“I also think there is now a general consensus in the French game that dialogue has to be the way forward. Though this will take time to develop, and though there will be setbacks, it is important for all sides to hold to this principle. Only in this way can we break down misunderstandings and distrust and create a situation for the good of all. We look forward to developing our relationship with all the key stakeholders in French football in future.”
To learn more about the Supporter Liaison Officer (SLO) role, visit sdeurope.eu/slo/. If you are interesting in learning how to implement the role at your football club, visit our Resources section for a range of handbooks, toolkits and additional information.