Calculating Safe Capacity

The responsibility for calculating the safe capacity of a ground rests with the ground management. Where any part or parts of a ground are covered by a safety certificate issued by the local authority the capacity calculated by ground management should be reviewed by the local authority and if validated included in the safety certificate.

The safe capacity of a sports ground should take account of both its physical condition (P factor) and its safety management (S factor).

At the majority of sports grounds, the capacities of each section will be added together to establish the final capacity of the ground as a whole. The factors to be considered in determining the capacity of each section are:

  • Entry capacity – the number of people who can pass through all the turnstiles and other entry points serving the section, within a period of one hour.
  • Holding capacity – the number of people who can be safely accommodated in the viewing accommodation. In the case of seats this will be determined by the actual number of seats, less any that cannot be used safely (owing to seriously restricted views or their inadequate condition). In the case of a standing area this will be determined by a number of features including crush barrier strengths and layouts and areas which offer restricted views. The holding capacity takes into account the physical condition of the viewing accommodation – the (P) factor – and the safety management of the area – the (S) factor.
  • Exit capacity – the number of people who can safely exit the viewing accommodation under normal conditions.
  • Emergency evacuation capacity – the emergency evacuation time will be set between 2.5 and 8 minutes based on a risk assessment of the viewing accommodation and its associated emergency evacuation routes. The emergency evacuation capacity is the number of people who can safely negotiate the emergency evacuation routes and reach a place of safety within that set time.

Whichever is the lower of the above four capacities is taken as the final capacity of that section of the ground. Once the final capacity of each section of the ground has been determined in this way they can be added together to determine the overall ground capacity.

Detailed advice and guidance on calculating entry, holding, exit and emergency evacuation capacity is given in the Guide to Safety at Sports Grounds (Green Guide).

We have developed indicative questions for P and S factor calculations along with worked examples.