Serie B (the 2nd tier of the Italian football pyramid) believe that clubs need to continue improving the dialogue with supporters, the lifeblood of the game, and recommend that they should see the SLO project not as an obligation but as a landmark achievement, an investment and a resource. For this reason, Serie B have launched an SLO training programme that aims to help clubs better understand and attend to the needs of their supporters.
Last week, at the invitation of the Italian Football Federation (FIGC), Serie B president Andrea Abodi and SLO coordinator Federico Smanio hosted local club SLOs in Rome. The SLOs and club representatives in attendance had the opportunity to discuss the new FIGC regulations relating to SLOs as well as conventions and tools designed to help SLOs improve the quality of service they offer (e.g. full-access accreditation).
The agenda included a report on the SLO experience from the first half of the season, the tasks to be carried out by SLOs on matchdays, the cooperation with local police and the creation of an SLO network. The recent regulatory changes, which grant greater responsibility to and demand more commitment from SLOs with regard to their work with supporters, were also discussed.
The attendees also had an opportunity to raise questions and make comments on the work being done, including the need for improved cooperation between all stakeholders involved in the organisation of matches, the rights and obligations of clubs as the employers of SLOs, and the increased recognition of the SLO role at institutional level. Mr Abodi agreed to submit the minutes of the meeting to the National Observatory on Sport Events of the Italian Ministry of the Interior. He also gave clarifications on the role of the SLO and reiterated their importance for bringing about a positive change in the relationship with supporters. In response to a suggestion for an agreement between clubs and supporters that would outline the “rights and obligations” of each stakeholder, the SLOs of Cagliari, Cesena and Trapani were asked to present their experience of working with such agreements.
Closing the meeting, Federico Smanio said: “Serie B will continue to host these training and information meetings. They help us to achieve one of our biggest goals, to engage with supporters, understand their needs and involve them in the structure of the club. Today we had an honest discussion about the challenges SLOs face in their day-to-day work and their relationship and dialogue with supporters.”
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,browse the SD Europe SLO resources, follow the official SLO account on twitter or get directly in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org.