SLO Spotlight: AC Sparta Praha 

Football Supporters Europe is delighted to share the first edition of “SLO Spotlight”, a new Supporter Liaison Officer interview series. Each month, we will share insights into the SLO role at clubs of all shapes and colours from across Europe.  

Through this series, we aim to elevate the awareness of SLOs, by providing an opportunity for SLOs to learn from each other and for supporters to grow their understanding of this important role too. 

The first SLO in the spotlight is AC Sparta Praha’s Daniel Peterka. Daniel has worked for the Czech club since March 2021, initially working in a marketing position. Soon after, he moved to become the club’s full-time SLO. 

What are you most proud of achieving since becoming your club’s SLO? 

“I am very proud of the progress we made during the 2022/23 season, at a time when the ultras group made the decision to boycott home matches. By conducting the right conversations, finding the common ground, and taking small steps, we found solutions where they were happy to return, including a programme for the fans with stadium bans, which was important step for them.” 

Sparta Prague has competed in UEFA Club Competitions in recent years. In the instances where you have been in contact with the opponent clubs’ SLOs prior to a match, how has it aided preparations? 

“I can´t stress enough the benefits of meeting the SLO colleague of the opponent club during match preparations. We have time to compare notes, to understand the mood of the match, and to prepare for every scenario. I usually have a guarantee that I will be shown the away stand properly. With the information shared with me from the opposing club’s SLO during away matches, I can prepare materials to help our fans with their visit, for example FAQs. I also inform my SLO colleague of our fans’ habits and traditions, which assists communication with domestic stakeholders operating the match. When they visit us, I ensure the same information is available to them to assist their visit.”  

If you were giving advice to other SLOs, what do you think is the key to success in the role? 

“Not being the face of decisions, rather listening, delivering the message to the other side, and then listening again. An SLO doesn’t benefit from making big statements. An SLO’s twitter account should be as transparent as possible. As I have been told many times: “Heroes dies first.” 

What advice would you give to those new to the SLO role? 

“Spend as much time as possible during the first months with everyone who needs your time. If the fans want you during the preparation of choreography – be there. If the club management wants you to be at every type of internal meeting – say yes to that. You need to build contacts, even if you think you have enough.” 

If you could give one simple message to all supporters of your club about the SLO role, what would it be? 

“An SLO cannot answer all general enquiries. If you have troubles with your ticket bought on the second-hand market, contact customer service. When a club SLO becomes overwhelmed with simple questions that can be answered by other club staff, it takes them away from their most important work helping fans. We are here to help but make sure we’re the best person to ask.” 

You have previously attended FSE’s European SLO Network meetings, what do you find most valuable from attending? 

“Every FSE meeting gives me tonnes of inspiration and ideas, but mostly – I get contacts. The same for the UEFA games, with every active SLO I have a very good relationship up to this day and can call them any day. Other SLOs, they have the same interest as you, they will never refuse a call. So, if you ever come to an FSE Network meeting – don’t be shy. Even an idea from the other side of the Europe can come in handy someday. Trust me.” 

You took part in FSE’s TRANSFER project. What were your main take aways from that? 

“I visited Livingston FC as a part of the project, and despite the difference in size between them and Sparta Praha, I managed to get many ideas and learn different points of view for the issues I deal with back home. Given the different contexts of mine and my Scottish colleague’s role, we had several interesting conversations because we had two sides of the coin for every topic we opened. It was a short, but useful experience.” 

Can you tell us about the time your club played Slavia in the Cup final and how you and Slavia’s SLO managed to convince the Czech FA and the police to let the fans bring their banners and materials? 

“This story is the case study we have dreamt about. We both have experienced bad Cup Finals in the past, from a fans’ perspective. We’ve dealt with police dogs on the pitch during the match, police on horseback right next to the goals, and with conditions that had no place being the case at a celebration of football like a Cup Final. And thanks to the security manager of Czech FA, who knows that “happy fans equal no problems”, this latest Cup Final had a fantastic fan experience. Again, the only thing that was needed was to listen to the fans properly. Everything has a solution if you want to find one.” 

Finally, what do you think has been the main benefit of the implementation of SLOs in Czech football for both clubs and supporters? 

“The network between SLOs. We have our group chat, where we discuss topics that are hot for us and for Czech football on a weekly basis. Thanks to our shared goal, we can prepare materials for the meetings with the league and football association, with Czech police, with politicians, or with our fans. Additionally, because we are in regular contact, we can call on a lot of experience and have a strong voice when we need to.”  

FSE would like to thank Daniel Peterka and AC Sparta Praha for taking part in the series.  

Learn more about SLOs and FSE’s role in developing the position here.  

Contact us to find out more about the Supporter Liaison Officer role here

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