Ten years in the making: SD Europe to celebrate first Annual General Meeting
Building a movement is not like building a house, even though the use of the same word to describe the processes implies similarity. Movements are often described as having developed organically, but this doesn’t accurately reflect the commitment required to actually make it happen. A need for those willing to commit time and resources, in order to translate ideas into actions. Just as a house can’t be built without bricks, without people like this, movements would be impossible to get off the ground.
A gathering of such people will take place on November 27 in Malmö, where SD Europe’s first Annual General Meeting will take place; its first Annual General Meeting as an independent pan-European organisation, owned by its members.
This will represent the culmination of a process that began in 2007, with the idea that there was a need for like-minded groups of supporters and clubs to work together, marrying principles with pan-European co-operation. Established with a firm commitment to democracy, transparency and a belief in a better way for football, and supported by UEFA, the SD Europe network has set about making this vision a reality.
Many milestones have been celebrated along the way, as a succession of ideas have been translated into actions. Amongst these was a meeting in September 2015, when representatives from across the network expressed their clear desire for an independent organisation to be established, and nominated a steering committee to oversee the incorporation, working with Supporters Direct in the UK.
Now that this has taken place, and as the network approaches its tenth anniversary, the time has come to both celebrate this achievement and look to the future. With this in mind, members will elect the organisation’s first board and ratify a proposed strategy for the coming year. Membership is drawn from across Europe, with national organisations, individual club groups and member-run clubs all eligible to join. The organisation is fully democratic, with each country being entitled to one vote at the AGM.
On behalf of the interim board, Diego Riva (Italian national organisation Supporters in Campo) said: “As a network we have always been clear in our desire for an independent organisation to represent our views on the European level. We are delighted that this now exists in SD Europe, and look forward to working collectively to promote a more democratic, sustainable model for our game.”
Antonia Hagemann, CEO of SD Europe, said: “SD Europe has grown from a standing start in 2007 to a flourishing network that includes national supporters’ organisations, individual club groups and member-run clubs in over 20 countries. We exist to serve this network, helping build links, share best practice and represent its views on a range of key issues. As a team, we are looking forward continuing this work, and further developing SD Europe’s position as a key stakeholder in European football.”
Ashley Brown, CEO SD said today:
"We would like to take this opportunity to wish our colleagues at SD Europe every success with their work. Supporters Direct plan to be a full and active member of the organisation, and look forward to working alongside them to continue promoting good governance in sport."
SD Europe: Key Questions & Media Briefing
What Is SD Europe?
SD Europe is an organisation that assists democratic supporters’ groups in achieving formal structured involvement in their clubs and associations, and developing member ownership of football clubs. Established in 2007 with support from UEFA, SD Europe also advises clubs on their ownership and governance structure, and works with football governing bodies, leagues, UEFA, and European institutions.
Currently, it is active in over 20 European countries and is also responsible for the implementation of the Supporter Liaison Officer (SLO) requirement (Art. 35, UEFA Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play Regulations).
What Has Changed With This Announcement?
Supporters Direct has existed in England and Wales for over 15 years. In 2015, the organisation established a governance review in order to make recommendations for the future structure and governance of SD’s activities in England, Wales, Scotland and, as part of SD Europe’s work, in countries across Europe.
At a meeting in Hamburg in September 2015, the European network that has grown from SD Europe’s work decided unanimously to establish a new, pan-European organisation that would represent the interests of the network’s members across Uefa’s Europe. This decision was backed by SD Europe’s funders, including UEFA.
An interim group of representatives from Italy, France, Spain, Israel and Ireland was appointed to liaise with Supporters Direct as its own governance review continued and, in February, it was announced that SD Europe would become an independent organisation as wished by members of the European network.
What Will This New Organisation Do?
SD Europe will continue to provide the services it always has to member run clubs, supporters groups, national associations and other stakeholders across Europe. The new organisation has already begun a process of updating its own guiding principles and core values, in line with how its European network has developed over the past nine years and looks forward to celebrating its 10-year anniversary in 2017. Members input will be integral throughout this process.
Who Can Join SD Europe?
National supporter organisations from across Europe, some of which represent member run football clubs, have already expressed an interest in becoming a member of SD Europe. Where a national organisation does not already exist in a country, a relevant group – with agreement from any other compatriot groups – may represent that country.
However, reflecting the key ideals of consensus and democracy, each member country is entitled to one vote at AGMs and General Meetings, are collectively represented by an elected board of up to five board members and will all be equal in status. The interim board, which has guided the new organisation through a transition period in recent months, will stand down at the first AGM in Malmo, Sweden later this month and the SD Europe’s first full board will then be elected by its members.
What Does This Change Mean For Members Of The European Network and Members Of Supporters Direct?
One of the key objectives in setting up the new organisation was to give members from countries across Europe the opportunity to be fully involved and make a formal contribution within an organisation representing their views to the wider football community. That has now been achieved in setting up an organisation that will represent members-run clubs and supporters’ groups across Europe via national supporter organisations or their agreed representatives. Members of Supporter Direct, like other clubs and supporters’ groups across Europe, can continue to access the benefits of being involved with SD Europe as and when Supporters Direct becomes a member of SD Europe.
What Benefits Can SD Europe Offer Its Members?
An informal network of national organisations, member-run clubs and supporters’ groups to date, the strength of the European network that has grown from SD Europe has always been its ability to share best practice, provide peer support to one another and to promote the ideals of good governance, sustainability in football and active citizenship.
Being involved in the network and now SD Europe will allow members to continue to benefit from the vast knowledge being collected.
In addition, SD Europe is responsible for the implementation of UEFA’s SLO programme across Europe, and is the only organisation with the expertise to help deliver its many positive outcomes in full. SD Europe’s work on the SLO is not limited to SD Europe members but they do enjoy easier access to the SLO team driving key improvements.
SD Europe is also nearly half way through delivering its second European Union-backed project. The first project focused on good governance and supporter involvement across Europe and was acknowledged as a great success. The second, which is currently underway and co-funded by UEFA, will see a range of initiatives delivered by December 2017, including workshops on governance, sustainable finance and member engagement as well as exchange visits between member-run clubs and national organisations and the creation of an online training programme.
Partners are: Member-run clubs: Schalke 04 (Germany), Cava United Football Club (Italy) , Malmö F.F. (Sweden) , Club de Accionariado Popular Ciudad de Murcia (Spain) , Cork City Football Club (Republic of Ireland) , Football Club United of Manchester (United Kingdom)
Members of SD Europe will benefit on an ongoing basis from the knowledge and growing expertise gained by these various strands of work, and the future promises to bring much, much more!
Where can I find more information?
More information about SD Europe and the organisation’s Erasmus + project can be found at www.sdeurope.eu.
For additional comment and information, please contact Niamh O’Mahony, Development & Media Manager, SD Europe at: firstname.lastname@example.org.