The FSF is keen to see Supporter Liaison Officers (SLOs) become a real link between clubs and their fans. Over at Birmingham City a new supporter "hub" has brought together 30+ forums, websites, Facebook groups and Twitter accounts to work with the club's SLO. Is this the way ahead in the digital age? The Blues Collective explains more...
Michel Platini states that “supporters are the lifeblood at the very heart of professional football. Without its supporters, professional football would not be very different from an amateur sport or pastime”.
Here at the Blues Collective we believe this to be the case although supporters must have an avenue to air their views, and this is why the role of the Supporters Liaison Officer (SLO) is paramount. As a group of supporters we are very lucky that we have a club that is willing to listen to and an SLO that is prepared to put forward the supporters views to the club.
The Blues Collective is a hub of 30+ forums, Facebook groups, Twitter accounts, websites, fanzine and even an internet radio show, that offer their members / followers / readers / listeners a direct avenue to the club through the Blues Collective.
This has only been possible through the club's SLO and management being pro-active and endorsing Blues Collective and helping the group become established. In doing so the club recognised Blues Collective as an official supporters' group and provided a venue for us to hold a meeting of all admin/owners of the sites involved.
It works like this - if the club would like to know how the fans feel about a certain subject they ask the Collective. A poll or survey is then posted across all 30+ sites and the results from each site are collated and forwarded to the club.
Blues Collective has a website (not a forum) where it encourages fans to post compliments, new ideas, suggestions and complaints, that will then be posted across all sites for interaction and opinions. These will then be forwarded to our SLO.
The club does not have the time to listen to and hold meetings with every unofficial group nor does it have the time to promote them, this is where Blues Collective can help.
Blues Collective promotes all things good at Birmingham City and encourages all fans to become involved and share their ideas. The Collective also stage events for the fans where admission is either minimal or free and all the funds raised go to charities. Birmingham City have also helped by arranging for prizes to be raffled or players to attend to generate more interest.
- Our next event takes place at Kingshurst on Sunday 25th August - find out more here.
Birmingham City has supplied match tickets to Blues Collective which are then given away to competition winners,with the same competitions being posted on each site involved. This way all fans get a chance to win tickets and not just the ones that follow a certain site.
Blues Collective promote all fundraising undertaken by any individual fan or group by advertising across all sites. It's also about to raise funds to sponsor a BCFC Community Trust project by asking BCFC fans to donate £2-£5 towards the total. The spoils of the sponsorship will then go back to the fans in forms of competition or raffle prizes, if more funds are required for other community projects.
We believe that a hub of all factions is the way forward although it is reliant on the willingness to improve fan involvement by a club's SLO and, ultimately, the club itself.
We hope all other clubs show the willingness to interact with fans as much as Birmingham City has.
The Blues Collective.
The FSF blog is the space to challenge perceived wisdom, entertain readers and inform our members. The views expressed on this blog are those of the author – they don't necessarily represent FSF policy and (pay attention journalists) shouldn’t be attributed to the FSF. Have your say below and play nice…