Back by popular demand, SD Europe is reintroducing its Supporter Liaison Officer of the Month articles as a regular monthly feature. This follows the initial run of SLO of the Month articles celebrating 10 years of Supporter Liaison Officer implementation during the 19/20 season.
For the inaugural edition of 2021, the series focuses on Bartosz Kadłubowski, the SLO at Polish first division football club Jagiellonia Białystok.
Bartosz represents Poland in the European SLO network and was the local host for an exchange visit to Jagiellonia Białystok in November 2018 as part of the LIAISE Erasmus+ project run by SD Europe. He also served as an external advisor to a further project visit to the Czech Cup final between Slavia Prague and Banik Ostrava in May 2019.
LIAISE Erasmus+ project visit visit to Jagiellonia Białystok in November 2018
What have been the main challenges when communicating with fans during the Covid-19 pandemic?
“In these difficult times, from the very beginning, we tried as a football fan community to use the fan’s potential to help those who have found themselves in a difficult situation. We have been involved in both fundraising to purchase protective equipment needed at the beginning of the pandemic, as well as providing food and other life essentials, for example, to senior citizens. That is why, together with the club, we started the #JagaPomaga (Jaga helps) campaign, that helped us reach those who needed such help.”
What are some of the achievements that you have had in this role at your club?
“The first and most important task was to build mutual trust and partnership between the fan community and the club’s management board. Second, it was necessary to develop conditions acceptable to all interested parties in order to have a smooth and proper functioning of matches while away fans supporting their clubs visited Białystok. The third aspect in which I took part, and from which we already have positive feedback, is building a disabled fans association. As of today, we can proudly say that the first official association of fans with disabilities is already operating efficiently in our country.”
Do you work in a dedicated SLO team? How many SLOs are at your club?
Bartosz (right) with the club’s photographer Mariusz Piotrowski
“I am the only official SLO in the club, but it is obvious that all the activities and success that we achieved are mainly because of the people from fan groups and club decision makers wanting to cooperate with each other. Among other things, because of this good will, since last year we have also managed to find a person suitable to perform as an independent DAO.”
Which personnel and groups are you in liaison with as the SLO?
“I have direct contact with the club’s authorities, including the club’s management, as well as representatives of all active fan groups.”
What kind of tools do you use to communicate with the fanbase? Meetings, dedicated communications channels?
“These are mainly meetings with people interested in cooperation at our Fan Project Headquarters “Fans Together”, of course, you can also find my contact information on the club’s website. Most of the information is handed down to fans via the online forum of Jagiellonia fans.”
What are your short-term and long-term goals in your role?
“The short-term goal is certainly to create conditions for safe return as soon as possible . Both for Jagiellonia fans as well as for those who support other teams and would like to support their clubs at the Białystok’s stadium, in the away section. I think each of us would agree that playing games in an empty stadium is something very sad in football. As for the long term goals, I would very much like my club, in cooperation with the entire community of fans, to be able to create such conditions for us in the future so that everyone visiting the stadium would look forward to the next game.”
What actions are you looking to take to engage fans and further make a difference?
“We are now working on providing audio description for visually impaired people who would like to experience Jagiellonia’s games even more while still being at the stadium. Regarding this idea we want to use the solutions already introduced in other clubs, such as Lech Poznań. Lech cooperates with the local radio station and provides audio description of Lech’s games.”
What do you think has been the main benefit of the implementation of SLOs in Polish football?
“The main thing that I feel every day, especially when participating in the process of organising trips, is that both sides (fans who want to take part in games, club managers and local authorities) have space to solve problems regarding organising matches. They see a specific person responsible for each matter instead of an anonymous group. Due to that, instead of running away from problems, with a joint effort, we manage to solve most of them instead of unnecessarily escalating issues. It is impossible to avoid all the problems, but I can honestly say that after more than seven years working on this project, the situation has improved significantly.”
SD Europe would like to warmly thank Bartosz and Jagiellonia Białystok for taking part in the SLO of the Month series.