This past weekend saw the beautiful city of Huelva and the oldest club in Spain – Recreativo de Huelva, host the annual SD Europe AGM. The weekend was packed with panels, workshops, meetings, and of course football!
Friday night, saw a panel discussion with William Gaillard (Former Head of Communications and Public Affairs at UEFA), Maria Cappa (Spanish reporter & author) and Juan Manuel Garrido (Spanish reporter and author): “The role of supporters in modern professional football clubs”. ‘The representatives of the local community, neighbourhood, city should be the basis of the life of the club, instead the fans have been taken out and became customers of a company’ said Maria as William continued ‘a public entity, such as the city council, can invest in a club in an emergency situation, with the consensus of citizens, but that must end in a final cooperative in which the supporters and local businessmen are the owners’.
Saturday morning, CEO Antonia Hagemann reported the results of past year alongside SD Europe board members. The AGM unanimously approved the Bohemians Supporters Trust and Supporters Collectief Nederland as SD Europe members, representing Czech Republic and Netherlands respectively. Participants also heard from newcomers of Lyra Lierse (Belgium), PAC Omonia 1948 (Cyprus) and Dinamo Bucharest’s DDB project (Romania).
SD Europe’s membership and extended supporters network now sees national and local supporters’ organisations and member-run clubs from Belgium (YB Beveren/Eskabee, Pallieter Supporterscollectief/Lyra Lierse, ActAs1/Antwerp), Cyprus (APOEL Supporters Trust and PAC Omonia 1948), Czech Republic (Bohemians Supporters Trust), Denmark (Brondby Supporters Trust), England (SD/FSF merged organisation), France (Association National des Supporters-ANS), Germany (Unsere Kurve), Ireland (Irish Supporters Network), Israel (Israfans), Italy (Supporters in Campo), Netherlands (Supporterscollectief Nederland), Norway (Norsk Supportersallianse), Poland (AKS Zly), Romania (DDB project), Scotland (SD Scotland), Spain (Federación de Accionistas y Socios del Fútbol Español-FASFE), Sweden (Svenska Fotbollssupporterunionen-SFSU) and Ukraine.
Next on the agenda was the first of three morning workshops by SDE Board member and Israfans founder, Shay Golub. Shay discussed “What’s my club winning story? How to keep my messages relevant in changing times”. Participants worked together, based on the public narrative method, in finding a way to keep the message of their organisation clear and relevant in changing times. Each person created the organisation’s story, demonstrating that it can be very solid and clear for inner needs, while being useable and flexible for your various reasons.
The second presentation was about “Dealing with membership” facilitated by Jannis Albus, of Schalke 04. After presenting the structure of the membership department, Jannis drilled down to the method Schalke 04 uses to get in contact with members; stadium contact points, online discussions (surveys & member-barometer), regional meetings and, of course, the AGM. Throughout his presentation, Jannis highlighted the importance of investing in the membership by contacting them in all possible ways, while trying to get to know each person.
Building on the findings of the SD Europe’s ‘Clubs and Supporters for Better Governance in Football’ project (co-funded by Erasmus+ and UEFA), SD Europe advisory board member & Athlead UK CEO Kat Craig, facilitated a workshop on managing and developing volunteers in supporters organisations and member-run clubs. The borderline between happy and unhappy volunteers, and the challenges SD Europe members face in dealing with them were very similar across the audience. With Kat’s help, participants came up with additional insights and tools to face the ongoing challenges of working with volunteers in a sustainable way.
The action packed day ended with a Recreativo Huelva match with Sevilla II, in which the Abuelos fought back from a goal down, to win 2-1 with a glancing header. “On behalf of Recreativo Supporters Trust, members and volunteers, for letting us hold here in Huelva this AGM of European level. It was very special to us to learn from the experiences and we enjoyed all the workshops. It was very special to us to see everyone living our club, living our stadium, living our history. We will see everyone next year, in another place in Europe. We will keep talking on how football must be and what we can do to reach our target” Recreativo Supporters Trust and SD Europe board member said.
Overall, it was a special weekend celebrating the work and support of the SD Europe network. In addition, thanks to member-run clubs PAC Omonia 1948, Schalke 04, Xerez Deportivo FC, Cork City FC, HFC Falke, AKS Zly, and Hapoel Katamon Jerusalem for joining us. A special and warm thank you to our members from the Recreativo Supporters Trust and FASFE for hosting the AGM.