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Understanding the steward exemption

Under the Private Security Industry Act (PSIA) 2001, some security roles undertaken in sports grounds in England and Wales are exempt from Security Industry Authority (SIA) licensing.

The exemption only applies in certain circumstances, and it may not always be clear whether an SIA licence is needed.

To help clarify, the Sports Grounds Safety Authority (SGSA) and SIA have put together a document explaining when a SIA licence is needed at a sports ground.

Understanding the steward exemption (PDF)

UEFA Stadium & Security Webinar 2022

The SGSA is proud to have taken part in the UEFA Stadium & Security Webinar 2022.

The focus of the SGSA is the safety and enjoyment of all fans at sports grounds. There has never been a greater need for effective event safety management.

Ken Scott MBE highlights the importance of applying the comprehensive advice provided in our latest guidance document, SG03: Event Safety Management.

Watch UEFA Stadium & Security Webinar 2022 

SGSA Conference 2022

Save the date and join us at
the Sports Grounds Safety Authority (SGSA) Conference 2022

Tuesday 24 May 2022

Etihad Stadium, Manchester


On 24 May 2022, the SGSA will be holding its sixth Annual Conference at the Etihad Stadium, one of the first football grounds to be pioneering licensed ‘safe standing’ in seated areas from 1 January 2022. This comes as great news after the unfortunate cancelation of the Annual Conference over the past two consecutive years as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In celebration of moving forward with the historic change to allow standing in top flight football grounds in England and Wales for the first time in nearly 30 years, we are extremely pleased to be hosting our annual conference at the Etihad Stadium.

The last 18 months have been busy for sports grounds safety professionals. We’ve seen our events come to a halt and experienced sport without spectators, tackled the challenges of managing the safe return of fans, welcomed the policy change of licensed standing areas; and saw the new guidance on Event Safety Management being published.

The focus of the SGSA is the safety and enjoyment of all fans at sports grounds. In order to never become complacent when it comes to safety, we aim to bring together the events and sports sector at the SGSA Conference to discuss the latest developments in sports grounds and event safety.


Tickets for the SGSA Conference will be available for purchase on 4 January 2022, when we will also have a special early bird discount available for bookings.


Over the coming months we’ll be announcing speakers and sessions. There will be plenty of opportunities for you to network with colleagues and visit our exhibition area. You will also have the opportunity to tour the Etihad Stadium and look around the new licensed ‘safe standing’ area.

Exhibitors and sponsors

If you are interested in supporting the SGSA Conference 2022 through exhibiting or sponsoring at the event, please contact Andrea Jones at or call 07525 836287.

New guidance document brings together the core elements of event safety management

There has never been a greater need for strong and effective event safety management. To support this, the Sports Grounds Safety Authority (SGSA) has today launched a new guidance document which provides a comprehensive guide to key elements involved in the planning and delivering of safe events.

The Supplementary Guidance 03: Event Safety Management document, outlines the full event planning cycle and provides event management and safety teams with the tools to effectively deliver safe events for all.

Chief Executive of the SGSA, Martyn Henderson, said: “Safe events are achieved through a balance of good management and design. The focus of the SGSA in creating this new document is to provide individuals in the management, organisation or hosting of an event, with the tools to ensure the safety of anyone attending their events.

“Safety management should never be an afterthought. Venue management and event organisers around the world face common challenges and need these practical tools and guidance to help ensure the safety of the public.”

The new guidance is supplementary to the Guide to Safety at Sports Grounds (also known as the Green Guide), which is used around the world for the safe design of sports grounds. It builds on a number of the concepts within the latest edition of the Green Guide, published at the end of 2018, in particular the significance of Zone Ex.

This new guidance document brings together the following core elements of event safety management:

  • Management responsibilities. Providing guidance on the measures the venue management and/or event organiser should take in order to meet their responsibilities for safety management throughout the event planning cycle.
  • Event safety personnel. Focusing on the five key roles which typically make up the safety management team at a venue or event: a senior executive; Safety Officer; supervisory stewards; stewards and a named individual with a responsibility for security.
  • Risk management. Detailing the requirements by which venue management and/or event organisers can meet their responsibility to achieve a reasonable degree of safety for all people present at an event.
  • Incident management. Advising the best way to manage incidents or threats as they occur by revising operational procedures and, if necessary, implementing contingency plans.
  • Contingency planning. Highlighting the difference between standard operational procedures that apply during normal conditions, to when hazards or threats are categorised as ‘critical’ and need a planned response known as a ‘contingency plan’.
  • Operations Manual. Listing all the documents considered necessary for the safe management of an event, such as policy and planning documents, risk assessments, contingency plans, operational plans and site plans.
  • Event Management Plan. Explaining the importance of this final section of the Operations Manual, and how it must be prepared in advance summarizing all the operational procedures to be put in place for a specific event.
  • Event Record, review and audit. Focusing on the need to maintain records for each event and have robust reviewing and auditing procedures which offer confirmation and assurance that the safety management operation is properly planned and open to subsequent examination.

While this document is a comprehensive guide to all elements relating to event safety management, the Green Guide remains the foundation upon which all other SGSA guidance is based.

SGSA’s Head of Inspectorate and lead author of SG03: Event Safety Management, Ken Scott MBE, said: “Event safety management is a discipline that requires forethought, focus, detailed planning and leadership, backed up by information and intelligence gathering, the co-ordination of multiple stakeholders, targeted communications, and the presence of competent staff who are appropriately trained, briefed and resourced.

“The guiding principle of this new guidance is that whatever the size, nature or location of an event, the safety of all people present must be a priority over every other event specific concerns.”

Follow this link to get your copy today:

New research highlights safety requirements of Neurodiverse fans at live sporting events

Developments to ticketing, staff training and matchday information will improve the experience of neurodiverse fans, according to new research commissioned by the Sports Grounds Safety Authority (SGSA).

The research, carried out in partnership with Level Playing Field and conducted by the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen), aimed to better understand the experiences and safety requirements of neurodiverse fans when attending live sporting events.

Neurodiverse Sports Fans Report – Safety, accessibility and experiences when attending live events (PDF)

The key aim of this report was to recognise and highlight the access requirements of neurodiverse sports fans and how these related to questions about maintaining a safe environment within stadia and grounds.

Chief Executive of the SGSA, Martyn Henderson, said: “Sports grounds should be welcoming and safe environments for everyone. This research is a vital first step towards addressing the lack of evidence around the access needs of neurodiverse sports fans.”

The research explores the experiences of neurodiverse fans before and after sports events, including buying tickets, planning trips, as well as experiences of travel to venues, entry and exit.

According to NatCen’s findings, although participants reported positive experiences attending live events, there were many areas where experiences could be improved, and there is scope for further support.

Suggestions for improvements were made across the whole of the spectator journey: from those related to ticketing and information provision before the match, to the day itself. More generally suggestions were also made about how clubs could engage with neurodiverse fans.

The research included interviews and focus groups with 24 neurodiverse sports fans (including companions/carers/guardians) to explore issues from participants’ point of view. Experiences at a range of different types of sports were included in the research, but attendance was more frequent at football.

The types of neurodiversity that were represented across the study were: autism; attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD); dyslexia; dyspraxia; and Tourette’s syndrome. Due to the diversity of conditions, people had different characteristics and requirements.

Feedback from participants revealed the following areas needed improving:

  • Booking tickets. Participants wanted an easier process of booking that would reduce the need to repeatedly explain or justify their access requirements.
  • Information provision ahead of the day. Being able to plan improved confidence. Participants wanted more information available in advance of events, covering: what to expect in terms of arrival and transport; security checks and what could be brought into the venue; seating layout; and who they could speak to for help.
  • Venue Arrival. Being physically close to other people can be overstimulating and lead to a rise in anxiety. Participants wanted greater availability of accessible parking or more drop off locations nearer the venues. They also felt there should be more accessible entrances with consistent staffing who understand neurodiverse spectators.
  • Staffing. Negative encounters were reported arising from a lack of understanding from staff. They felt staff, particularly stewards, should receive training to be more aware of, better understand and support neurodiverse fans. Where participants received support from disability access or liaison officers, this was generally a positive experience.
    “Knowledge is key, the training of stewards is the way forward as they are on the grounds with the fans” (said carer of child with ADHD and Tourette’s, who attends football and ice hockey).
  • Venue design. Negative experiences where venues had narrow concourses and gangways or closely packed seating were reported. Being able to pick appropriate seating improved this. Fans often relied on support from other people to find their way around venues, but suggested new stadia should be built with wider, more spacious concourses, gangways, and seating. Signage could also be improved using pictures, colours, and larger text.
  • Facilities. Participants were supportive of the provision of sensory rooms for neurodiverse children and for those with more complex needs but noted that there were various limitations to these. They advocated having more quiet spaces closer to seating areas that could be accessed without prior booking and be used as a space to moderate anxiety or stress.
  • Safety. Many of the factors that improved participants’ overall experience also made them feel safer while attending live events. These included accessible/open seating and accessible venue design, support from family or friends, and a strong presence of trustworthy staff who understood the requirements of the range of fans.
  • Engagement from clubs/venues. Finally, participants wanted greater engagement from clubs and venues with their neurodiverse fans, through a ‘neurodiversity champion’ to understand the requirements among the supporter base. Participants also felt that clubs/venues could do more to raise awareness with other spectators.

The study aimed to better understand the accessibility requirements of neurodiverse fans and establish what can be done to make reasonable adjustments and improve their experiences. Participants were happy that this research was being conducted by the Sports Grounds Safety Authority and Level Playing Field as they saw this as a step towards developing such standards.

There is clearly a growing interest in this subject, and many venues are already making steps to adapt and improve their provisions. Level Playing Field will be integrating the key findings from the study into their new Accessible Stadia Guide, which will be published towards the end of 2022.

Chair of Level Playing Field, Tony Taylor, said: “We are delighted to have a research project such as this take place. The matchday experience for Neurodiverse fans is often an unknown quantity and can present barriers for fans attending or having a lesser experience when they do so.

“The findings of this research project will allow progress to be made in enhancing access and inclusion for neurodiverse fans. We are fully aware that more still needs to be done, but hope that this research will lead to a large scale research project in the future and, of course, greater access and inclusion at sports stadia.

“We are grateful to the SGSA for commissioning and supporting this important project, and to NatCen for delivering it.”

Neurodiverse Sports Fans Report – Safety, accessibility and experiences when attending live events (PDF)