In mid-March SD Europe were invited to speak at the annual security seminar organised by the Norwegian Football Federation (NFF) and the Norwegian Football League (NTF) in conjunction with the Norwegian police.
The event was attended by security officers and SLOs from clubs in the top two Norwegian divisions plus the attached police officers. Representatives of the Norwegian Supporters Alliance (NSA) were also present.
SD Europe’s SLO project consultant Stuart Dykes gave a brief introduction to the SLO project at the start of the seminar and later made a separate presentation to a gathering of about 20 SLOs from a range of first and second division clubs. The presentation looked at ways in which SLOs can establish the position at their clubs, many of whom have been slow to recognise the benefits that supporter liaison has to offer.
The SLO session concluded with the election of SLO spokespersons at national and European level. Björn Andreas Christensen of Stabæk Fotball was elected along with Arne Christian Eggen (Rosenborg BK), who was also nominated as the Norwegian representative in the new European SLO network.
On the second day of the seminar the NFF and the NTF unveiled their new Stand Up For Football (SUFF) project. SUFF is part of a new drive to increase attendances in the top two Norwegian divisions, and SLOs are set to play a key role. It is based on a project of the same name in neighbouring Sweden, which has proved highly successful in establishing the SLO role there since its launch in 2012.
The principal aims of the SUFF project are to improve the stadium atmosphere, to make everyone feel welcome on matchday and to promote the role of SLOs. It will be managed by the NTF, while the NFF will retain responsibility for ensuring compliance with the SLO licensing requirement. In an initial step the NTF will start the search for an SLO coordinator to lead the project and report directly to the league director.
To ensure a certain degree of continuity, the project will initially run for 3-5 years. The total budget in 2017 amounts to NOK3.15m (approx. €340,000). Of this total, approx. NOK2m (€220,000) will be used to pay for SLOs at 3-5 clubs. The rest will cover the costs of the SLO coordinator, training and conferences, and overheads. Interested clubs can apply for SLO funding later this year to start in 2017 and funds will be allocated on a needs basis.
A key task ahead of the project launch will be to ensure clubs fully understand the SLO role and the associated benefits. SD Europe will continue to liaise closely with the Norwegian governing bodies, the SLO spokespersons, the NSA and the police in this area. If the experience in Sweden is anything to go by, the launch of the SUFF project will represent a significant step forward in the consolidation of the SLO role in Norway.
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 email@example.com.