In 2012, in line with a major new UEFA directive, United became one of the first EFL clubs to appoint a full-time Supporter Liaison Officer, in long-serving staff member John Garrett.
The club viewed it as an opportunity to strengthen further its connection with the terraces, and the project has gone from strength to strength.
Realising that, as with many fellow SLO's, the key time for interaction and feedback was the day of a game and other roles had a major impact, it was decided to recruit four volunteer officers to maximise coverage and presence - this was done via a formal application process to ensure that the best applicants joined the team. From that moment, John Cain, Kate Stewart, Gary Ogden and Matt Bassett became a vital part of the work that we do.
The team have arranged and run many fan and supporter club forums, giving the chance to interact and convey opinion to senior club officials, owners, directors and staff working in areas that can always benefit from positive, ongoing dialogue - the project helps the club to both listen and act.
The SLO team have become an instantly recognisable presence on each stand on a matchday and have their own hub on the Family Stand concourse - a permanent contact point that also gives out vital information such as post-match traffic details, team line-ups and is a place to pick up the latest club literature.
The officers meet official arriving coaches from the visiting Club, offering a friendly face that can give advice and directions to those from other clubs attending the game and work on a rota to be in their area throughout the match.
Their pictures and contact details are around the stadium to make sure that they are instantly spotted, and matchday uniform clearly states who they are.
The idea of having a bigger team is one that started at Bramall Lane and has now been replicated at many other clubs - another winning idea from United.
For more information, contact John at firstname.lastname@example.org