After more than a year’s hard work, the new and improved SLO Handbook is finally out. The handbook, aptly titled »UEFA Practical Guide to Supporter Liaison«, is a co-production between SD Europe and UEFA, and is more than 100 pages long. Coinciding with the decline of the pandemic and the opening of football in most countries, this is a welcoming practical tool for all national associations and clubs in Europe. Let’s hear from the handbook’s editor and main writer Tony Ernst:
First of all: Congratulations! It must feel good to finally see the new SLO Handbook out there for everyone to read?
– Thank you! Yes, it does. It’s been a long time coming, more than a year, actually, so to see the book finished feels amazing. It’s been hard work, for me, but also for a lot of other people, not the least two of my SD Europe colleagues, Stuart Dykes and Lena Gustafson Wiberg. A shout out also goes out to UEFA, who have shown patience and commitment in finalising this handbook. I really like the look of it. It feels like a fitting statement to the SLO role.
So can you summarize the handbook for us?
– It’s covering all the bases, there is theory but more important a lot of practical stuff. We have tried to make a handbook that can apply to all the national associations within UEFA. That’s a difficult task, but I think we have succeeded. This is the ultimate handbook for the SLO role and everything it entails. We are confident that we have created something interesting and lasting.
What is the most important thing about this Handbook?
– I would say that the most important thing is the practical side of it. We often hear about newly appointed SLOs in clubs who do not even get a job description, as there are none available. Their first task is often to phone another club’s SLO and ask for advice. With this handbook there is a lot of practical advice from different SLOs round Europe. We are sure that this handbook will be a lot of help to a lot of SLOs out there.
Tell us something interesting from the book!
– Where to start? One of the most interesting things about the book is the near total agreement that the SLO function is the perfect tool to handle the relation between supporters and all the other major stakeholders. We have testimonies from national associations, clubs, CEO’s, safety and security officers, and the police that the implementation of the SLO role all over Europe is an on-going success. So, one part of this book’s objective is to increase the status of the SLO role to those who are still hesitant.
This handbook comes at turbulent times for the football world, what with the Super League threat, the upcoming world cup in Qatar, etc?
– It does. And football is, and has always been, a very accurate litmus test on where democracy involvement stands in the world. Football and democracy often walks hand in hand. So this is a document that, via the promotion of the SLO role, also encourages everyone – clubs, employees, board members, and supporters – to make sure that football is as democratic as possible. Get involved, use your democratic rights, vote.
How has the covid pandemic affected the work on the handbook?
– Covid has affected us all, and the football community is just one of many areas were everything went to a standstill. For many people round Europe football is the most important thing in their lives, and not being able to support your team has been devastating. Many SLOs also found that during the pandemic, their line of work was one of the first to get laid off. The handbook has taken into account that there is now a time before the pandemic happened, and a time after. We sincerely hope that the SLO role has not taken too big a blow by the pandemic.
So what happens now?
– Now everyone can download the handbook from UEFA’s homepage. Not just national associations or clubs, or even SLOs, but also the common football supporter. I’m sure everyone will find something interesting in it. The SLO is one of the most important positions in any club for the active supporter. So it would be of use to read up on the work they do. We hope that it will be of interest.
And the handbook will also be used in the SLO training that SD Europe conducts?
– It will no doubt be a useful tool in the UEFA Academy SLO training that SD Europe runs together with UEFA. Lena Gustafson Wiberg, who is head of SLO training, has helped oversee the handbook. The SLO role is a requirement for club licensing within UEFA, but since the training for the SLOs is now part of the UEFA Academy, this has increased the status for the SLOs. And I’m sure the handbook will turn out to be very useful in the training programme.
You can download the handbook here!