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WANTED: Volunteers for FSF/SLO project

This is a story from the FSF archive – the FSF and SD merged to become the FSA in 2019.

The role of the Supporter Liaison Officer (SLO) is still a relatively new concept in England and Wales. While SLOs have been around on the continent for decades, most clubs on these shores have only had an SLO for a few seasons.

UEFA endorsed the role as part of their Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play Regulations meaning any club entering UEFA competitions must appoint an SLO. The Premier League and Football League subsequently adopted this, which means all 92 clubs shuld have an SLO . Some clubs at non-league level have also chosen to appoint an SLO.

What’s an SLO?

An SLO is appointed by the club and is responsible for building bridges between the club and its fans. SLOs might communicate fans’ opinions to a club’s board or senior staff members and should also liaise with stewards, police and counterparts at opposition clubs. The majority are club employees, although some are volunteers, and a club can appoint more than one.

UEFA describes the SLO as an “advocate of both sides, representing the interests of the club (or national association/league) AND those of the supporters”. The capitalisation is UEFA’s and highlights that an effective SLO must be more than an employee who just defends the club from fan criticism.

Historically the FSF has often played something like the role of SLO. That could be anything from advice, to public appeals, to gathering incident accounts, to acting as an intermediary between fan and clubs, the police or other non-governmental bodies. But not everyone knows of the FSF and club-specific SLOs might be able to reach fans who would otherwise have gone without help.

When the role was launched we committed to a number of activities:

  1. Building an SLO section on the FSF site;
  2. Providing a point of contact for all SLOs;
  3. Promoting the role of SLOs;
  4. Engaging SLOs in relevant issues that fans bring to the FSF.

As you can see from those links, we’ve done quite a bit, but it’s by no means job done and we want to reinvigorate the FSF’s SLO-related work in 2015.

We need your help

We want to work with SLOs on a regional basis but we need volunteers from the FSF’s member base to help us with that. That work could take many different forms.

It might involve organising small events for SLOs and fans to come together on an informal basis. Or maybe you’d like to contact supporters’ groups in your area to find out how their SLO is engaging. You could write a tailored piece for a local fanzine or blog, explaining to your fellow fans what the role should be about. Maybe you believe there’s scope for an SLO training package to be developed.

We’re open to ideas, but we need volunteers to help drive this on and improve things for fans. If you’re interested, email slo@fsf.org.uk.

Further reading:

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“Embracing supporter culture” – 2018 SLO of the Year Tony Barrett

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“Supporters can make the difference” – FSA SLO of the Year Dave Messenger

Every year at the FSA Awards we celebrate the Supporter Liaison Officer of the Year, a prize that aims to promote the best supporter liaison work that goes on around the country – and we’ve spoken to the 2019 winner, Dave Messenger, about his role at Watford.

Funding a project – Leeds United Supporters Trust

The Leeds Trust have recently set a great example of how to successfully plan, run and execute a project and it is definitely worth a read to understand more.

SD Europe AGM: supporter reps launch ‘Fans Matter’ project

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Funding partners

  • The Football Association
  • Premier Leage Fans Fund

Partners

  • Gamble Aware
  • Co-operatives UK
  • FSE
  • Kick It Out
  • Level Playing Field
  • Living Wage Foundation
  • SD Europe