Jorge Silverio, SLO coordinator at the Portuguese Football Federation, spoke last week in an interview about his efforts to increase match attendances and bring supporters closer to their club.
The prediction for 2015/16 season is that attendances in Portuguese stadiums will be higher than previous years, a result that is far from random. “The FA, the league and the clubs have been working towards this for quite some time,” Jorge said. “However, it takes time to begin seeing results and you just need to be patient.”
Jorge admits that the SLO project has been a key element in the strategy “One of the projects I like most is the supporter liaison project that was introduced by UEFA. I’ve been involved in it from the start,” he said before explaining the contribution of the project to the return of fans to the stadiums. “The supporter liaison officer is a figure that helps create closer links between clubs and their supporters and improve hospitality for visiting supporters. It is a medium-to-long-term project, but will eventually help people feel more comfortable and safer at the stadium. More people will come more often.”
SLOs, however, cannot solve the problem of attendance on their own. The project is part of a wider plan and supporter-oriented agenda adopted by decision-makers at the FA, league and clubs. Jorge said: “The regulation of ticket prices (some clubs charged as low as €1 a ticket at certain matches), the reduced media projection of negative incidents and improved infrastructure after Euro 2004 are among the tools football stakeholders, including SLOs, are using in their efforts to get supporters back to the stadiums.”
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 or get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org.