Supporter Liaison Officer: An Introduction
Supporter liaison officers (SLOs) act as a bridge between football clubs and supporters by providing a two-way flow of information around key topical issues.
The role, first created in Germany, ensures that fans’ voices are heard within every club’s internal structures while working to ensure an enjoyable match day experience for everyone in the stadium.
SLOs work with many different departments within a football club but their expertise is focused on supporters. An SLO needs to have a deep insight into their club’s fan culture but also the capability to establish and maintain trusting relationships with different stakeholders including a variety of supporter groups, club staff, police representatives, social workers and their counterparts at other clubs.
Football clubs competing in European club competitions are required to appoint a supporter liaison officer (SLO) under Uefa licensing (Article 35) since 2010. Many football associations and leagues have since made the appointment of an SLO a requirement of their own domestic licensing process.
I’m a newly appointed SLO. Where can I learn more about my role?
The SLO role is one full of potential for both you and your football club. With the right approach and support from your colleagues, your work can make a significantly positive impact.
In countries including Germany and Sweden, the role is now considered to be a critical element of the club’s structure with many top-tier football clubs employing a team of full-time SLOs to manage and enhance relations with supporters. However, many SLOs in Europe are still appointed on a voluntary or part-time basis.
A great place to start to learn about the various elements of the role is the Uefa supporter liaison officer handbook (2011) (available in English and a number of other languages here), which not only gives a broad background to the role but lots of practical advice and case studies. The handbook has also been translated into a range of different languages, which are available from our Resources section. That section also includes Toolkits and Best Practice documents. For regular updates, sign up to the SD Europe newsletter here.
I’m a SLO coordinator. What do I need to know?
Though the SLO role has been established by a number of Uefa member associations for some time, its development is still in the infancy stage for other football associations, leagues and clubs.
The SD Europe website Resources section contains a number of useful items including the Uefa supporter liaison officer handbook (2011), various Toolkits and Best Practice documents. It is also worth reviewing our website section on LIAISE, an Erasmus+ project that is coordinated by SD Europe and aims to develop the SLO role even further across Europe.
In addition, the SD Europe team has been tasked with implementing the role on behalf of Uefa since 2010, so we are happy to share our knowledge and experience, advise on initial steps and help you prepare a tailored development plan if needs be. Email: email@example.com to get in touch for additional support.
I’m a supporter. What does this role mean for me?
At SD Europe we believe supporters represent the heart of the Beautiful Game and should have their voices heard at the very highest levels within clubs, leagues and football associations.
The SLO role is one of the ways this can be achieved, by ensuring that there is a dedicated resource that considers the possible impacts of decisions and clubs actions on supporters and their match day experience on an ongoing basis.
The role of the SLO is to facilitate dialogue, not lead it. Our experience has seen SLOs work constructively with all supporter groups as well as individual fans across Europe; however, are not representatives of those supporters groups or supporters. They are appointed by the club and exist to improve dialogue and relationships around the club environment. Fans still need to be organised and come together to push for improvements in their own right.
Additional guidance and advice
SD Europe facilitates the implementation of the supporter liaison officer (SLO) role on behalf of Uefa and is available to provide additional supports where needed. You can read more about our work here: Implementing the SLO. Get in touch directly by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org.