The SGSA licence fee reform consultation has now closed. We are currently reviewing the responses before providing to the Government. We will share a summary report of the findings in December.
The SGSA has recently consulted the football industry about its annual licence fee payable by grounds used in the Premier League and EFL. We are conducting this consultation on behalf of the DCMS. Any change to the licence fee will be decided by Government.
The SGSA licence allows the admission of spectators into the ground to watch matches. Without this licence, it would be an offence under the Football Spectators Act 1989 to admit spectators. The cost of this licence was set at £100 in the early 1990s at the inception of the Football Licensing Authority, the SGSA’s predecessor. Since then, the licence fee has not changed.
This consultation asks the industry and other stakeholders for views on reforming the licence fee so that the cost of regulation is met directly by grounds. At present, the SGSA is currently funded by taxpayer money, via the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.
The proposed licence fee covers SGSA’s regulatory activities only. It does not cover any industry wide issues, which will continue to be supported by DCMS. In addition, any advisory work conducted by the SGSA will continue to be paid for directly by clients.
The proposals outlined in the consultation are recommendations only. The final decision on any change to the licence fee will be made by Government.
SGSA Licence fee reform consultation document (PDF)
The consultation document provides full information about the proposals, including:
- Background to the licence fee
- SGSA legal responsibilities and funding
- Principles of reform
- Options for apportioning costs of regulation
- Implementation of reform
Sections 5.7 to 5.12 of the consultation document outline the SGSA’s preferred method of licence fee reform. This is based on the safe capacity for a ground, with grounds placed into bands of varying capacities, with a sliding fee scale under which larger grounds pay the most. We have selected this as our preferred approach as it most closely relates to safety. However, the document outlines other options which have been considered.
To illustrate the cost, we have outlined the fees, based on the cost of regulation for 2022-23. This equates to a regulatory cost of approximately 72.5p per space (seat or standing accommodation) for 2022-23 – equivalent to around 3p per home match (based on 23 home matches). Full details, including what this would mean for grounds, is included in the consultation document.
The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) was commissioned by the SGSA to undertake a review and provide support to assist in creating a robust, proportionate and transparent funding model that reflects the full cost of regulation of the safety of football grounds in England and Wales. Read the CIPFA Regulatory Charging Report (PDF).
The Football Spectators Act 1989 was created to control the admission of spectators at designated football matches in England and Wales. This is defined in the Football Spectators (Designation of Football Matches in England and Wales) Order 2000 as matches taking place in international stadia and at Premier League / English Football League grounds.
On 5 October 2023, the SGSA held a webinar to provide an overview of the proposals and to answer questions and comments from the industry.
The webinar can be viewed at anytime on demand.
The slides used in this webinar are also available to view: 5 October Webinar Presentation Slides.
A second webinar was held on 31 October, which outlined the responses to date and the potential SGSA response to the points raised.
The webinar can be viewed at anytime on demand.
The slides used in this webinar are also available to view: 31 October Webinar Presentation Slides.
Questions and answers
To support the consultation, we want to ensure that any questions and answers you may have are covered. We have included some early questions below. If you have any others, please contact the SGSA directly at email@example.com.
The Q&A will be updated as we progress through the consultation
Q1. The SGSA also regulates local authorities. Why aren’t they being required to pay?
A1. The licence to admit spectators relates to grounds, not their local authorities.
The SGSA was established to improve spectator safety at football grounds used in the English leagues, working in partnership with the Local Authorities who certify these grounds. The SGSA does not therefore ‘regulate’ local authorities. We oversee the way local authorities perform this critical function to ensure greater consistency and adoption of best practice.
Q2. Why is this happening now? Why hasn’t the SGSA done this before?
A2. The timing of this change is outside of SGSA’s control. Any change for the licence fee will be for Government to decide, not the SGSA.
The change is happening now because an independent review of the SGSA conducted in 2022 found that: “The £100 licence fee should be replaced by a flexible system of charging which reflects the full cost of regulation and enables taxpayer funding to be reduced.
In responding to the recommendation, the Government committed to working closely with the SGSA to consider the implications and practicalities of amending their existing funding model. This consultation is informing these considerations.
Q3. What will it mean for individual clubs?
A3. It is important to remember that SGSA licences grounds, not clubs. In some cases, there may be no impact as the cost will be met by ground management.
In the majority of cases, however, clubs will pay a higher cost as a result of this change in order that their ground can admit spectators. This is similar to the fees payable for alcohol or entertainment licenses.
Q4. Why should football pay to support SGSA’s work in other sports?
A4. This will not be the case. The licence fee will cover the SGSA’s regulatory work only – that is, related to football grounds in the Premier League and EFL.
Other work, such as our standards setting on behalf of the industry, will be funded by Government’s grant-in-aid; and our advisory work will be paid for by clients.
Q5. What happens if all the consultation responses disagree with the proposals?
A5. The consultation asks for views on how best to implement this change. Any constructive criticisms, comments and suggestions will be welcomed.
The consultation findings will be submitted to Government to inform its decision on any change to the licence fee.
The final decision on any change rests with Government, not the SGSA.
Q6. Will this licence fee include any new fee for the new football financial regulator when it’s introduced?
A6. No. The change to the licence fee refers solely to the SGSA licence. The new football financial regulator is being implemented by DCMS, and any questions relating to the new regulator should be directed to DCMS.
It is important to remember that, unlike the proposed new regulator for English football, SGSA licences grounds, not the clubs who play football at these grounds.
Q7. What if a club refuses to pay?
A7. If a club/ground refuses to pay, a licence to admit spectators will not be issued. This means that the ground will commit an offence if it admits spectators to watch a football match without an SGSA licence.
Q8. How is the SGSA currently financed?
A8. The SGSA is currently predominantly funded by grant-in-aid from DCMS. Full information about the SGSA’s finance are published in its Annual Report and Accounts.
As part of the consultation preparations, a number of impact assessments were carried out. These are available to view below:
We welcome any comments you have on these impact assessments. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your comments.