With UEFA EURO 2024 in full swing, FSE is delighted to bring a special edition to the SLO Spotlight series, by highlighting the work of Scotland Men’s National Team SLO Liam Douglas.  

Liam has been a match-going supporter of Scotland for over 20 years and became the national team SLO in 2023.  

While Scotland has successfully qualified for two consecutive European Championships, EURO 2024 is Liam’s first tournament in the role. This interview was conducted prior to the tournament’s kick-off. And although the Scottish team didn’t make it into the round of 16, the fans certainly stood behind their team. 

How long have you been the Scottish national team SLO, and what made you decide to want to do the role? 

“My journey with the National Team started in 2003. The first game I remember was Scotland vs Netherlands in the playoffs. From then I was always going to games, and I first joined the Scotland Supporters Club in 2010 with my friend. Even whilst living in Barcelona for two years, I still attended a lot of matches with many highs and lows supporting Scotland! 

I joined the Scottish FA in 2018 as a Ticketing & Membership Executive for the national team and club matches held at Hampden Park, such as the Scottish Cup. In 2019, we had a fan survey and most of the answers in terms of improvement were around away matches and not having a presence from the association at the games. I started to do a bit of research into improving that aspect which led me to discover what an SLO was. I had no idea what the role was and then discovered there was a training course via UEFA and FSE. For me, it was a role that could be used to amplify the already established connection between our fans and the association as well as have a contact to be able to deal with issues on matchday. 

Coincidentally, FSE was looking for a contact from the association to organise and deliver it and that’s how we connected. Unfortunately, due to COVID, the training was delayed but it was finally delivered at the back end of 2023. 

Since 2023, my first proper game as SLO was our away match in Norway in June 2023. Before that, I worked a lot on our fan travel guides for away matches which was the start of my journey into the SLO.” 

What are you most proud of achieving since becoming the SLO? 

“It’s a hard question to answer as I feel like I am still trying to find my feet and establish what the role means to Scotland fans. I would say on the occasions that I have been able to help fans in terms of accessing the ground or be able to effectively deal with problems that have arisen during a match.  

There have also been some things with EURO 2024 that I have been proud to be a part of. Working with the Association of Tartan Army Clubs (ATAC) to get some things over the line in the host cities – such as additional public viewing areas, organising the fan walks, working with our pipers to hopefully create a fantastic atmosphere, and creating some unique fan meeting points for our fans to gather at just to name a few.” 

Scotland has consecutively qualified for two UEFA EUROs in a row, what are the biggest challenges as an SLO during a tournament? 

“This is my first tournament as the SLO so for me everything is a new experience. The Fan Forum organised by FSE, KOS, and EURO 2024 GmbH back in January was really eye-opening for me in terms of the amount of work that goes into the tournament and the massive part that we as an association and fan organisations have to play in implementing activities. 

Also, for me, my role is split between Ticketing & SLO, so managing my ticketing role in conjunction with the SLO part for a tournament can be difficult at times. There are so many moving parts to both roles, so keeping myself organised with my time and tasks is crucial. I know from speaking to some Scottish Club SLOs and other National Team SLOs, I am not alone in this type of scenario but somehow we all manage!” 

How does being SLO during a regular international break differ from during a tournament? 

“With a regular international break, it is a bit more straightforward where you are only dealing with a few stakeholders for the information regarding the stadium, ticketing, transport etc. Whereas with a tournament, there has been a lot more work involved in the fan activities, the UEFA fan zone, and obviously working with the host cities too. It has certainly been eye-opening for me and there are positive things we can take back and implement in how we operate during a regular international break.” 

How well are you known among the staff at the Scottish FA and among the Scotland supporters?  

“From the Scottish FA, my role and what I do as a SLO is well defined. There are a few staff members who are members of the Supporters Club, so it has been good in terms of word of mouth to other fans what my role is. 

For the Scotland supporters, since 2023, my name and contact details have always been on our travel guides and how and what they can contact me for and, most recently on our EURO 2024 guidance webpage. We are working on a dedicated page for the SLO role so that supporters have the knowledge on what my roles and responsibilities are.” 

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

“Being a two-way communicator between the fans and association is key. Sometimes the information or feedback won’t always be good but knowing that you can help improve situations is always worth remembering.  

Also, it’s important to work well with your fan groups that have already been established and maintain a good dialogue. Scotland fans maintain a good reputation and I am lucky that ATAC already had regular meetings with the association long before I started, so it’s been great to work with them and get a lot of things organised especially for EURO 2024.” 

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

“It can be a lonely role at times and a lot of work with a lot of moving parts. Reach out to other SLOs, to other members of your organisation for help if needed. There is always someone out there that will have already experienced what you’re going through and can offer advice or a least a sounding board.” 

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

“I am here to facilitate dialogue between you and the association. I am approachable if you want to email, call, have a chat at the game, or whatever it may be. I might not always have the right answer or the solution, but we can work together and get positive outcomes.” 

You recently took part in the UEFA Academy training that FSE organises together with UEFA. What were your main takeaways from that?  

“The biggest benefit to me as a new SLO was being able to listen to the experience and advice of other SLOs. There are many Scottish SLOs doing some fantastic work under very trying circumstances. It does give you the confidence to do your role knowing that you can rely on people with such vast experiences. 

I cannot thank Lena (Gustafson Wiberg, FSE Head of SLO Development) & Tony (Ernst, FSE SLO Development Officer) enough for taking time from their busy schedules to help me with the planning and preparation. I think it was a great learning experience not just for me but for all the Scottish SLOs that attended.” 

You’re in quite close contact with the Scottish club SLOs. What are the main differences in their roles and yours?   

“I think I may have it slightly easier with having fewer matches, haha! However, I would say that for them they are much more experienced as they have matches every week which is always a good thing. 

The biggest difference for me is that as our away matches are abroad you must factor the local culture into your planning. Going to football matches is very different in the rest of Europe and it is a point that you always must convey to supporters when they are travelling. Whether it’s certain local laws/customs or even what you can or cannot bring into the stadium – it is different for each opponent we play.” 

Football Supporters Europe would like to thank Liam and the Scottish FA for taking part in the interview.  

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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