Designated grounds

Under the provisions of the Safety of Sports Grounds Act 1975 the local authority is responsible for issuing and enforcing a safety certificate in respect of a sports ground designated by the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

What is a designated ground?

The Secretary of State may designate any sports ground which in their opinion has accommodation for more than 10,000 spectators – 5,000 in the case of Premiership or Football League grounds in England and Wales.

How do I apply for a ground to be designated or de-designated?

The 1975 Act empowers the Secretary of State to designate any sports ground, which has accommodation for more than 10,000 spectators, or 5,000 in the case of Premier League and Football League grounds in England and Wales. This function is performed by the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

The Secretary of State will normally be aware of major new sports grounds under construction but may not always have been informed of developments that might increase the capacity of an existing sports ground above the threshold for designation. It is therefore incumbent upon the local authority to notify the Secretary of State of any sports ground likely to require designation. It should give at least 10 weeks’ notice, so that the Secretary of State has sufficient time to be satisfied that the sports ground meets the criteria. As part of this process, the Secretary of State will formally consult the local authority, the sports ground owner, the emergency services and, where it will have a statutory role, the SGSA.

The notification to the Secretary of State should include the proposed capacity of the sports ground, together with its full postal address as soon as this is known. While this may appear pedantic, and can be difficult to supply for new sports grounds where the precise address has not been fixed, it is the only certain means of identification. While the name of the sports ground may change, the postal address rarely does.

The designation order remains in force unless or until formally revoked by the Secretary of State. If a designated sports ground is demolished or is permanently modified, so as to reduce the capacity below the threshold, the local authority should formally notify the Secretary of State and request that it be de-designated. Should the local authority not do so, the certificate holder may apply directly to the Secretary of State. This can be done directly via email: or by post: Sport Team, Department for Culture, Media & Sport, 1 Horseguards Road, London, SW1A 2HQ. If a Football League Two club is relegated to the National League and thereby falls outside the threshold, the same de-designation processes apply.