Clubs and Supporters for Better Governance in Football – Cork City Football Club
Cork City Football Club

Clubs and Supporters for Better Governance in Football

3rd workshop on “Membership and Volunteers”
Veltins Arena, Schalke 04, Gelsenkirchen
16-18 June 2017 

In attendance were representatives from 38 clubs and national organisations.

Project Participants:  
Supporters in Campo

Fabio Guarini, Mimmo Dollente

Cava United

Marco di Donato, Giuliana di Donato

Federación de Accionistas y Socios del Fútbol Español

Luis Garay, Narciso Rojas, Julio Sanches

CAP Ciudad de Murcia

Ulises Illán Frutos, Jose García Fernández

Svenska Fotbollssupporterunionen

Sofia Bohlin, Maria Lemberg, Dan Ekberg, Felix Jonsson

Malmö FF

Pontus Hansson, Pierre Nordberg

Irish Supporters Network

Ulick O’Sullivan

Cork City FC

Mike Derham

David Geary

FC United of Manchester

Jim Brunt, Vinny Thomson

Substance

Dan Ellingworth

Unsere Kurve

Ulrike Polenz

SD Europe

Niamh O’Mahony

Loukas Anastasiadis

Stuart Dykes

Other participants:

Patrick Gasser (UEFA), Pedro Velazquez (Project Advisory Board), Joanna Deagle (CAFE), Esther Jones (CAFE), Mariana Linhan (FARE), William Gaillard (Burson Marsteller), Daphne Goldschmidt (Hapoel Katamon), Meytar Hen (Israfans), Tarik Ajanovic (Za Celik/Celik), Jim Van de Vyver (Eskabee), Robin Beck (Eskabee), Vidar Vadseth (Norsk Supporters Alliance), Andrew Jenkin (SD Scotland), Oliver Holtaway (Supporters Direct), Dimitar Christon (Bulgarian FA), Aleksandar Mechev (SLO, Beroe), Paul Cox (Sounders Community Trust). 

Session 1:

Working with Member and Volunteers in an Inclusive Way: AGM, Website, Communication, Management

  • Members and Volunteers with Disabilities presented by Centre for Access to Football in Europe, (CAFE) .
  • Members and Volunteers in Minorities or Under-Represented presented by Football Against Racism Europe, (FARE).

Unfortunately we couldn’t attend this session due to our flight cancellation. We did get to chat with Joanna and Esther of CAFE during the evening and they explained the main points of their discussion. Their main message is “Together we can help to improve the lives of many disabled people around Europe through football and its fans”.

Accessibility is essential for disabled people to be able to exercise their rights and participate fully in society; in some countries, any lack of access to the built environment is considered a form of discrimination.

Europe is promoting a “Design for All” approach to the built environment so that buildings and public spaces are readily usable by as many people as possible and accessible to all. CAFE estimates that at least 500,000 disabled people within the extended UEFA European region are likely to be active football supporters with many more aspiring to become match going supporters. Disabled people have the right to enjoy football, sports and all forms of entertainment in the same way as everyone else. This applies to football at all levels. As access improves, more and more disabled people will feel able to attend games. By inspiring many more disabled people to attend live matches and to get involved in local volunteering activities, CAFE aims to stimulate social inclusion, encourage interaction between citizens and contribute to intercultural learning and bring to the fore both Europe’s diversity and unity.

Session 2:

Managing membership

  • Clubs with Dedicated Resources presented by Malmö FF.

By using dedicated resources, Malmö have put in a renewed effort into promoting their membership, and it appears to be paying off.

  • Reaching consensus at national level presented by Supporters in Campo, (SinC).

SinC have chosen to take a consensual approach to making decisions, which allows for all ideas and viewpoints to be discussed throughout the process. In effect this means that an initial vote on any topic may then be thrown open for those involved to explain why they voted the way that they did. A subsequent vote then allows those present to change their minds based on those explanations. This ensures that all opinions, ideas and concerns are taken into account. Through listening closely to each other, the group aims to come up with proposals that work for everyone. Consensus is neither compromise nor unanimity – it aims to go further by weaving together everyone’s best ideas and key concerns.

Session 3:

Involving Members in the Democratic Process

  • Regional Departments, Meetings and the Ambassador Programme presented by Schalke 04.

Schalke 04 outlined their membership and ambassador programme in detail, explaining that their preference is for sustainable growth of membership numbers rather than campaigns that peak and subsequently tail off.

  • Working Groups and Democracy presented by Swedish Football Supporters’ Union, (SFSU).

This discussion outlined the benefits and challenges involved with how the SFSU work day-to-day, placing a strong focus on the importance of organised working groups that feed back into their central board.

Session 4:

The Challenge of Meeting Members’ Expectations

  • Managing Sporting Success Off the Field presented by Cork City FC and the Irish Supporters Network, (ISN).

Mike Derham and Ulick O’Sullivan facilitated a discussion around this topic, with headings of:

Why Do Members Join? Why Do Members Leave? What are Members Expectations? What Benefits Are There? Selling The Benefits, and Communications.

This was a wide-ranging debate revolved around how organisations can prevent misunderstandings in their membership, and face the challenge of working with members that are seeking to ensure their specific viewpoints are implemented, and how to manage any subsequent dissatisfaction.

The outcomes of the discussions were that at club level we could all do more. We have various similarities, no matter what size our membership is, and we also have some uniqueness that each club will need to focus on. At national level, there are a few similarities also, but overall each organisation is unique in its reasons to exist and meet their membership expectations.

Session 5:

10 Years and Counting!

  • SD Europe’s anniversary session

This was a round table discussion of how SD Europe came into existence and how the organisation has developed. Members related various stories of how the organisation has helped at club and national level, and where they could see SD Europe becoming an essential help in the future. Former director of communications at UEFA, William Gaillard, and project advisory board member Pedro Velazquez contributed to a discussion, recalling how the organisation came about, how its work with the European Union has developed over the years, its transformation into a pan-European organisation in 2016 and what may lie ahead in the coming years.

“Looking back to the years when the EU started to conceive a European Sport policy, I remember how reluctantly decision makers looked to the involvement of supporters in club ownership. The development of Supporters Direct throughout our continent has demonstrated how supporter trusts can have a positive influence in football governance. This Erasmus+ is making possible the exchange of good practices which are having a real impact the governance of football clubs and governing bodies,” Pedro Velazquez said.

Session 6:

Developing, Training and Managing Volunteers

  • A Members-Run Club Point of View presented by FC United of Manchester.

Vinny Thompson and Jim Brunt of FC United of Manchester, spoke at length about their club’s focus on recruiting, managing and retaining volunteers, giving an insight into the club’s community ethos in the process.

  • How to Mobilise Volunteers: the Story of the Recreativo Supporters Trust presented by Federación de Accionistas y Socios del Fútbol Español,(FASFE).

Narciso Rojas shared the incredible story of how volunteers of the Recre Trust helped save their football club, Recreativo de Huelva, from going out of existence and have since become creditors to the tune of €1 million. 

Session 7:

  • Interim Report & the Value of Meaningful Evaluation presented by Substance.

Substance gave a report on the feedback on the project to date, and the importance of reporting on progress. Dan Ellingworth demonstrated a very useful resource for obtaining feedback from the floor, for instance at AGMs. (The website link is www.pollev.com and is free to use for up to 25 polls / participants per session.)

Wrapping up the event, Acting CEO Niamh O’Mahony said, “As this Erasmus+ project has progressed, it has been striking to see the value and benefit of exchanging best practice and getting everyone together for specific workshops. Our project partners are changing elements of how they work because of what they are learning and understanding, which has been a key objective since day one.”