SD launches 'Heart of the Game' in Brussels

Supporters Direct Europe (SD Europe) last week launched its first position paper, The Heart of the Game: Why Supporters are Vital to Improving Governance in Football, at an event hosted by Ivo Belet MEP at the European Parliament in Brussels.

SD Europe has produced this paper, the full version and summary of which are now both available online, in order to set out key policy positions and provide evidence of how supporter ownership and involvement can help improve European football.

Key recommendations include: a revival of the members’ association model of club ownership, expansion of existing national networks of organised supporters’ groups, and the implementation of club licensing and financial fair play-type rules in all European leagues. Football’s key stakeholders were present at the event, including UEFA, national associations and leagues, and members of the European Parliament, Commission and Council.

Representatives from the growing European network of organised supporters’ groups working towards greater levels of involvement in the decision-making process and ownership structures of their clubs were also present.

As host of the event Ivo Belet MEP welcomed those in attendance, and praised the work being done by organised supporters throughout Europe. “Supporter involvement is an excellent tool for European football to become more inclusive, but also to stimulate the financial and organisational stability of clubs.”

Antonia Hagemann, Head of European Development at Supporters Direct, then provided some background on the aims of the paper, and the achievements of SD Europe. “Whatever we can do to raise awareness, increase sustainability and the role of supporters, we will do.”

After the introductions was a panel discussion, moderated by Raphael Honigstein (Süddeutsche Zeitung, The Guardian), and featuring contributions from David Lampitt (Chief Executive, Supporters Direct); William Gaillard (Senior Adviser to the President, UEFA), Emanuel Medeiros (Chief Executive Officer, European Professional Football Leagues); and Christian Mueller (Chief Executive Officer, SG Dynamo Dresden).

The discussion covered a range of issues, including the need for good governance and financial stability in European football, and the role that organised supporters can play in developing both.

The panel’s positive perception of supporter involvement at clubs, leagues and national associations, as well as the growing support from football’s key stakeholders indicates that the movement will continue to grow in the coming months and years.

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