Annual Conference 2019

Picture of Tottenham Hotspur stadium

In September 2019, the SGSA held its fifth Annual Conference in the newly opened Tottenham Hotspur Stadium London. It was one of our most highly attended events, with 300 delegates, including SGSA staff and Board members.

The aim of the Annual Conference is to bring together the sector to discuss the latest developments in sports grounds safety. Amongst those attending the event were local authorities from across the country, football club safety, emergency services and representatives from other sports.

The conference was sponsored by Dallmeier. In addition, it also attracted eight additional exhibitors. Delegates were able to engage and liaise with exhibitors during the refreshment breaks.

Conference sessions

The event was a mixture of plenary and breakout sessions that reflected the issues and challenges facing the sports grounds safety sector. The conference was chaired by BBC football reporter Mark Clemmit. Topics covered included:

  • Large crowds and Zone Ex, led by Aoife Hunt, Associate Director, Movement Strategies;
  • Developing a world-class stadium, from Jon Babbs, Stadium Director, Tottenham Hotspur FC;
  • A discussion panel on persistent standing, including representatives from the Football Supporters’ Association, the UK Football Policing Unit, Tottenham Hotspur FC and Nottinghamshire County Council; and
  • The future of women’s football, from Hannah Buckley, Head of Facilities, The Football Association.

Breakout sessions

In addition to the above, more in-depth breakout sessions were offered, including:

  • Fan engagement with discussions from the Football Supporters’ Association, Celtic FC and the Council of Europe;
  • Professionalising the sector and training, with perspectives from ESSMA, the Emergency Planning College and LABC;
  • Pyrotechnics and the latest developments and information about how sports grounds should tackle the issue;
  • High footfall screening, with the latest insights and how pedestrian screening is challenging venue operators and event owners;
  • Alternative uses of sports grounds, with experiences from Bristol City Council, the Jockey Club Racecourses and Sunderland AFC;
  • Drones, with the latest information on legislation and practicalities from the Civil Aviation Authority;
  • Zone Ex – what it means for those involved, with perspectives from Newcastle United FC, London Borough of Newham and the National Counter Terrorism Security Office;
  • Events medical care, led by Mark Cutler, Medical Operations Manager at Wembley Stadium for The Football Association; and
  • An interactive session on safety certificates.

Throughout the event, we encouraged delegates to engage on social media, using the conference hashtag #sgsaconf. Evaluation shows that this generated 212,164 potential impressions on Twitter with a potential reach of 133,115. In addition, the hashtag #safesportsgrounds generated 96,475 potential impressions with a potential reach of 44,020.


Feedback from the day included:

“Well run, constructive and informative conference, held in a top of the class venue.”

“A really good conference with a diverse range of subjects to choose from. Well done to all at the SGSA for a great event.”

  • 95% of delegates said the relevance of the content was either very good or excellent
  • 87% said the variety and quality of the breakout sessions was either very good or excellent;
  • 87% said the variety and quality of the speakers was very good or excellent;
  • 99% said the venue was very good or excellent;
  • 96% said the conference as a whole was very good or excellent;
  • 99% said the conference either met or exceeded their expectations (27% said exceeded); and
  • 95% said they were either satisfied or very satisfied with the conference overall (63% very satisfied).