Joint Consultation - A Wider Definition of Safety

There is no doubt that sports grounds have been transformed since the tragic events at Hillsborough in 1989. Grounds are more modern and facilities have been improved. Clubs have qualified safety professionals and stewards working together with the police, fire and ambulance service, and the local authority to ensure the safety of spectators. The recent conclusion of the Hillsborough Inquests is a reminder that even though we have come a long way, we must never be complacent about safety.

Today, our system of safety regulation is one of the most robust in the world, with local authorities working in partnership with sports grounds to ensure the safety of spectators remains a priority. We should take confidence in that strong foundation, but never let it hold us back from being flexible to today’s challenges.

The nature and scale of issues affecting safety at sports grounds today are significant and fast-changing. New technology presents both opportunities and challenges. Spectators are looking for new ways to create atmosphere and excitement. Financial pressure at sports grounds and local authorities alike means that investment in safety and in regulatory activity is under increasing scrutiny. And following the attacks on the Stade de France in 2015 and subsequent attacks on other stadia, it is clear that sports grounds and other crowded places are a potential target for terrorist activity.

In addition, public interest in ensuring that sports grounds are accessible places for all is growing. In its December 2015 Sports Strategy, the Government highlighted the value of experiencing live sport and made it clear that sports grounds should be accessible places for everyone. The Government committed to enable the SGSA to take on a more formal role in helping sports grounds reach the required standards for accessibility.

The SGSA’s Review

One of the SGSA’s roles as the national regulator is to ensure that the regulatory system is working and to regularly review it to ensure it is fit for purpose for the current context and for the future. This is an important part of being a proactive, forward-looking regulator.

Aware of the changing context described above, the SGSA has reviewed the primary legislation which sets out how safety at sports grounds should be regulated, and the remit of the SGSA and local authorities. To inform our consideration of these issues the SGSA has obtained legal advice.

This consultation sets out the SGSA’s view on what safety means in today’s context, and how we believe it should be regulated, and seeks the views of stakeholders on potential implications for local authorities, sports grounds, and the SGSA. Following the consultation, the SGSA will publish a consultation summary and set out its response and planned next steps. Structure of this Consultation Document

This consultation is structured in two parts.

Part 1 of this document relates to the definition of safety in the Safety at Sports Grounds Act 1975, and explains the SGSA’s view that safety is a broad term encompassing protection from dangers of physical harm or injury to people at a sports ground. This represents a widening of the perception that safety relates only to physical and safety management matters. This part will be of particular interest to sports grounds and local authorities, as well as governing bodies of sport and other interested stakeholders.

Part 2 of this document relates to the SGSA’s oversight and licensing powers under the Football Spectators Act 1989. This part sets out what those powers are and how the SGSA will discharge them, and is accompanied by a draft Oversight and Licensing Policy. This part will be of particular interest to bodies who come within scope of the SGSA’s licensing and oversight powers; namely the 94 football grounds at which designated football matches are played, and the local authorities with responsibility for issuing safety certificates to those grounds.

How to respond

The Sports Grounds Safety Authority welcomes comments on this consultation document from all stakeholders who may be interested.

The consultation document | The response form

The closing date for responses is Friday 19 May 2017.

You can respond to the consultation using our online survey:

Alternatively, you can send your comments by email to

We would prefer to receive your response electronically. If you need to submit your comments in hard copy please send to:

Sports Grounds Safety Authority
3rd Floor, East Wing,
Fleetbank House
2-6 Salisbury Square


Consultation Events

We are holding a series of events to provide more information about the content of the consultation. 

The 90-minute presentation and discussion sessions will provide attendees with the opportunity to ask questions about the content of the consultation to help shape thoughts ahead of any written submission. Anyone who has not, or will not have the opportunity to attend the SGSA conference workshop, a recent Safety Advisory Group meeting or regional meeting may benefit from attending. 




4 April


Webinar – dial in from your desk

5 April


SGSA Office, London

6 April


Trafford Town Hall, Manchester

7 April


Aston Villa FC, Birmingham


Book here to attend the Consultation Events.