For the final SLO of the Month in 2021, SD Europe spoke to the SLO at Scottish Premiership side St. Johnstone FC, Beverley Mayer.
For those new to the Supporter Liaison Officer of the Month series, each month, SD Europe speaks to an SLO to learn more about their experiences and share them with the network!
Beverley has a longstanding relationship with St. Johnstone having been a season ticket holder for over 20 years. She began working for the football club in 2012, and then was asked to take on the SLO role in 2016.
St. Johnstone’s 20-21 season was one that will live long in the memory for their supporters as the club achieved a cup double winning both the Scottish FA Cup and Scottish League Cup.
How did you become the Supporter Liaison Officer at your club?
“I started working for St Johnstone FC back in July 2012, initially recruited to run the Club’s lottery and our matchday bar. I had been a season ticket holder for over 20 years prior to that and had also been involved in organising supporters’ buses to away games for around that same length of time. I had attended various meetings with the Club as a supporters’ representative during that time and through this had built up a network of very good relationships with people at the Club and also with other supporters’ groups and individual supporters too.
I am a keen supporter of our National Team and a well-travelled member of the Tartan Army which has enabled me to make connections and build friendships with supporters of other clubs around Scotland too.
Fast forward 4 years to 2016, I was asked by senior management at the Club if I would consider taking on the role of SLO in addition to my current remit. Upon researching the role, it soon became apparent that I was carrying out many aspects of its functionality already, so it made sense to take on the role in an official capacity.”
What are some of the achievements that you have had in this role at St Johnstone FC?
“I have assisted with raising awareness of the role by ensuring that I am a recognised and reliable conduit for any and all supporter enquiries. I provide a comprehensive programme of pre-match information via my twitter feed and assist home and visiting supporters alike. I provide a late ticket purchase and collection facility for our supporters at away matches. I have worked closely with our active support and have helped to increase the membership of our Junior Saints Supporters’ Club. I have also adopted and developed the role of Disabled Access Officer (DAO) at the Club as a result of my SLO work.”
Following the cup double win last season, how do you manage the relationship with supporters when the team is successful on the pitch and excitement is high?
“As a supporter myself I understand the magnitude of what we achieved last season and how desperately disappointing it was not to have supporters at our national stadium to witness our success first-hand due to Covid restrictions.
As an SLO, managing the relationship with supporters during (and after) such a successful season has been a very interesting and positive experience. I work closely with our media and comms department and during both cup runs we tried very hard to create ways to ensure supporters were given the opportunity to join us on those journeys. It was important that they felt engaged and part of the ‘cup fever’ process.
We introduced quirky merchandise, including the ‘I wasn’t there!’ mugs and scarves, a League Cup final magazine, we moved our matchday 50:50 draw online, we recruited ‘virtual’ cup final mascots from our Junior Saints Supporters’ Club (which included an invitation to join our Manager and Captain on a Junior Press Conference via Zoom), we offered a Matchday Hospitality Food box purchase scheme to enjoy whilst watching the matches at home on TV – containing the same pies we sell at our stadium kiosks (very popular!).
We have subsequently hosted numerous events at McDiarmid Park (St. Johnstone FC’s stadium) for fans to have their photos taken with our silverware and assisted with requests to have cup final memorabilia signed by the squad.“
Do you work in a dedicated SLO team? How many SLOs are at St Johnstone FC?
“As the only SLO at St Johnstone FC I am flying solo, but I work closely with our Safety Officer and our comms department.
It has to be said, our fans are great and very helpful to me too in that they often signpost fellow fans to me via social media or will contact me on behalf of someone who maybe isn’t active online. As soon as I have put information ‘out there’ the fans help disseminate it to a wider audience, ensuring any messaging and information is cascaded onward.”
What would your advice be to other Scottish clubs considering appointing and SLO?
“My advice would be to research the role – download a copy of the newly published UEFA Practical Guide to Supporter Liaison to assist with this; consult with other clubs who already have an established SLO in place; contact Supporters’ Direct Scotland and SD Europe to find out what resources are available – both in terms of assisting with the recruitment process and with ongoing development and education. There are so many positive reasons for clubs to adopt the SLO function.”
What kind of tools do you use to communicate with the fanbase?
“Twitter is probably the easiest and most dynamic communication tool at my disposal, with email a close second. I am available via text, phone, and in person also.
The role of Ticketing Lead was added to my remit 6 months ago too so being based in the ticket office means I am ‘customer facing’ every day. This makes it easier for me to resolve any issues relating specifically to ticketing and season tickets. Being the DAO, I am able to service any requests and issues in relation to accessibility too.”
What are the main benefits you have experienced from taking part in the SLO network meetings?
“The SLO network meetings – both European and Scottish – are very beneficial. They give us a chance to share ideas and to learn from each other, to meet and network with new people, not just SLOs but other stakeholders in the game - safety officers, police, ultras groups, governing bodies, NGOs etc. The meetings have also given me the opportunity to shadow fellow SLOs at matches both in the UK and in Europe. Being able to observe experienced SLOs in action has been a great learning curve for me, helping to increase my knowledge of the function, and my understanding of fan cultures elsewhere in Europe.”
What actions are you looking to take to engage fans and further make a difference?
“Many Covid restrictions remain in place within Scottish football but when restrictions begin to ease we will be looking to reintroduce regular fans’ meetings with supporters’ clubs, individuals, and other stakeholders. We continue to work closely with our ‘active support’ who have been fantastic this season, creating colourful tifos, correos, and banners, and encouraging the rest of our support to join in with creating a great atmosphere at matches, both home and away.”
What do you think has been the main benefit of the implementation of SLOs in Scottish football?
“I think for clubs and supporters alike the main benefit is knowing they have that dedicated reliable conduit to oversee two-way communication between the fans and the clubs. They can