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Spirit Of Shankly - European Football Fans Congress 2010

Representatives from the Spirit Of Shankly Management Committee attended the recent European Football Fans Congress held this year in Barcelona. The three day weekend event was an opportunity for supporters of clubs from across the continent to come together and talk about the issues affecting them. On the agenda was the topic of Supporter Liaison, UEFA sanctions, How fans are treated, and more importantly the present economics of the game.

Representatives of all clubs from over 30 countries were invited to the Nou Camp for an introduction to the Congress, and to see and hear first hand about how and why supporter ownership is important and works at Barcelona. The following day saw supporters gather at Estadi Cornella - El Prat, RCD Espanyol's stadium, to find out more about each clubs issues and to participate in workshops centred around finding solutions to the problems us supporters face.

We attended three of the workshops - The F$&%ed Up Economics of Football, Action Heroes Against Modern Football?! Ultras, and Bridging a gap – Fan Liaison Officers as a model in Europe.

 

The F$&%ed Up Economics of Football

The Workshop lasted throughout the day, with talks and presentations from Dave Boyle (Supporters Direct), Sefton Perry (UEFA), a representative of Liga de Futbol Profesional and a representative of APMAE (Minority shareholders group of Espanyol). Sefton ran through the new Financial Fair Play rules being implemented by UEFA as part of the Club Licensing System for entry to UEFA competitions. Whilst it was clear that the new rules would not go the whole way to eradicating the problems, they were at least a starting point. Fans were hopeful and contributed considerably with suggestions and ideas on how they can be expanded upon.

A presentation from the Liga de Futbol Profesional, gave a greater insight into the professional running of the game as well as information on the forthcoming Spanish Sports Law. Xavier from APMAE showed that the same problems are being faced by many clubs and gave a reminder of why we must all take action and stand up for what we care about, saying in his presentation that not to act means to co-operate.

2010 Edition of the UEFA Club Licensing and Fair Play Regulations can be found here http://www.uefa.com/MultimediaFiles/Download/uefaorg/Clublicensing/01/50/09/12/1500912_DOWNLOAD.pdf

The 2008 Club Licensing Benchmarking report can be found here http://www.uefa.com/MultimediaFiles/Download/Publications/uefaorg/Publications/01/45/30/45/1453045_DOWNLOAD.pdf (2009 Financial Year Report is due out in October)

 

Action Heroes Against Modern Football?! Ultras

This workshop was a chance for supporters from different clubs and from different countries (including amongst others Marseille in France and Rapid Vienna in Austria) to share stories of how they, as supporters, are treated by their respective clubs, footballing bodies and police forces.

The afternoon session was dedicated to organising a day of joint protests against the shared problems of each clubs. A vote was cast on whether the protest should be directed at football finance, atmosphere in grounds being strangled by the clubs or supporter treatment by the police.

The majority present decided to go with supporter treatment by the police.

Whatever the outcome of any plans in action from this, Liverpool FC's problems are, at the moment, very different from the European clubs and it would not of been in our best interests to take part.

 

Bridging a gap – Fan Liaison Officers as a model in Europe

Chaired by Antonia Hagemann from Supporters Direct, there were 2 guest speakers, one was Thomas "Tower" Weinmann from Moenchengladbach, who is their official Supporters Liaison Officer (SLO). Together with a colleague from Portugal who is the SLO Ombudsman for every fan organisation in Portugal.

During the morning session Tower gave a presentation of his role, followed by the Portuguese presentation. This was followed by a dynamic discussion in the afternoon, with fan representatives from the German FA.

Key contacts were formed with groups including with fan representatives from FC Barcelona which will help us in developing a knowledge base and foundations for a fan ownership model. Also, with a representative of the Hamburg Supporters Club is going to put together a piece on Spirit of Shankly to explain our work to their fans.

As of season 2012/13, any clubs playing in UEFA competitions and subsequently requiring a UEFA licence will have to have a SLO employed by the club. The SLO should ideally be elected by supporters; however, currently the clubs can employ any 'supporter' in order to fulfil the UEFA rule as part of the licensing. The Football Supporters Federation (FSF) will try and lead this as the national fan organisation in the UK to ensure better representation and service in the SLO role. This is something that we intend to pay close attention to regarding any further developments.

There were representatives from AS Roma, Arminia Bielefed, Austria Vienna, Mainz 05, Hamburger SV, Fernerbace, FC Barcelona, Borussia Moenchengladbach, Werder Bremen, Schalke 04 and more in attendance at this workshop.

A UEFA news item about the SLO can be found here http://en.uefa.com/uefa/footballfirst/protectingthegame/clublicensing/news/newsid=1507905.html

 

We will be looking to build on the contacts established at the conference to assist us in achieving our aims.



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