What Is SD Europe?
SD Europe is an organisation that assists democratic supporters’ groups in achieving formal structured involvement in their clubs and associations, and developing member ownership of football clubs. Established in 2007 with support from UEFA, SD Europe also advises clubs on their ownership and governance structure, and works with football governing bodies, leagues, UEFA, and European institutions.
It is currently active in over 20 European countries and is also responsible for the implementation of the Supporter Liaison Officer (SLO) requirement (Art. 35, UEFA Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play Regulations).
What Has Changed With This Announcement?
Supporters Direct has existed in England and Wales for over 15 years. In 2015, the organisation established a governance review in order to make recommendations for the future structure and governance of SD’s activities in England, Wales, Scotland and, as part of SD Europe’s work, in countries across Europe.
At a meeting in Hamburg in September 2015, the European network that has grown from SD Europe’s work decided unanimously to establish a new, pan-European organisation that would represent the interests of the network’s members across Uefa’s Europe. This decision was backed by SD Europe’s funders, including UEFA.
An interim group of representatives from Italy, France, Spain, Israel and Ireland was appointed to liaise with Supporters Direct as its own governance review continued and, in February, it was announced that SD Europe would become an independent organisation as wished by members of the European network.
What Will This New Organisation Do?
SD Europe will continue to provide the services it always has to member run clubs, supporters groups, national associations and other stakeholders across Europe. The new organisation has already begun a process of updating its own guiding principles and core values, in line with how its European network has developed over the past nine years and looks forward to celebrating its 10-year anniversary in 2017. Members input will be integral throughout this process.
Who Can Join SD Europe?
National supporter organisations from across Europe, some of which represent member run football clubs, have already expressed an interest in becoming a member of SD Europe. Where a national organisation does not already exist in a country, a relevant group – with agreement from any other compatriot groups – may represent that country.
However, reflecting the key ideals of consensus and democracy, each member country is entitled to one vote at AGMs and General Meetings, are collectively represented by an elected board of up to five board members and will all be equal in status. The interim board, which has guided the new organisation through a transition period in recent months, will stand down at the first AGM in Malmo, Sweden later this month and SD Europe’s first full board will then be elected by its members.
What Does This Change Mean For Members Of The European Network and Members Of Supporters Direct?
One of the key objectives in setting up the new organisation was to give members from countries across Europe the opportunity to be fully involved and make a formal contribution within an organisation representing their views to the wider football community. That has now been achieved in setting up an organisation that will represent members-run clubs and supporters’ groups across Europe via national supporter organisations or their agreed representatives. Members of Supporter Direct, like other clubs and supporters’ groups across Europe, can continue to access the benefits of being involved with SD Europe as and when Supporters Direct becomes a member of SD Europe.
What Benefits Can SD Europe Offer Its Members?
An informal network of national organisations, member-run clubs and supporters’ groups to date, the strength of the European network that has grown from SD Europe has always been its ability to share best practice, provide peer support to one another and to promote the ideals of good governance, sustainability in football and active citizenship.
Being involved with this network and now SD Europe will allow members to continue to benefit from the vast knowledge being collected and recorded on an ongoing basis.
In addition, SD Europe is responsible for the implementation of UEFA’s SLO programme across Europe, and is the only organisation with the expertise to help deliver its many positive outcomes in full. SD Europe’s work on the SLO is not limited to SD Europe members but they do enjoy easier access to the SLO team driving key improvements.
SD Europe is also nearly half way through delivering its second European Union-backed project. The first project focused on good governance and supporter involvement across Europe and was acknowledged as a great success. The second, which is currently underway and co-funded by UEFA, will see a range of initiatives delivered by December 2017, including workshops on governance, sustainable finance and member engagement as well as exchange visits between member-run clubs and national organisations and the creation of an online training programme.
Partners are: Member-run clubs: Schalke 04 (Germany), Cava United Football Club (Italy) , Malmö F.F. (Sweden) , Club de Accionariado Popular Ciudad de Murcia (Spain) , Cork City Football Club (Republic of Ireland) , Football Club United of Manchester (United Kingdom)
Members of SD Europe will benefit on an ongoing basis from the knowledge and growing expertise gained by these various strands of work, and the future promises to bring much, much more!
Where can I find more information?
More information about SD Europe and the organisation’s Erasmus + project can be found at www.sdeurope.eu.
For additional comment and information, please contact Niamh O’Mahony, Development & Media Manager, SD Europe at: firstname.lastname@example.org.