The Sports Grounds Safety Authority (SGSA) has the legal duty to issue licences to all clubs in the Premier League, English Football League, Wembley and the Principality Stadium, which allows admittance of spectators to grounds.
Clubs in the Premier League or Championship, or any who have been in the top two tiers for more than three seasons since 1994/95, must have an all-seated stadium, unless they have a licence to operate licensed standing areas. This is a condition of the SGSA licence.
Despite the licence condition and the efforts of clubs, we know many fans still choose to stand. Standing in areas which are meant for sitting has a number of safety risks, including injury and crowd management and care issues.
The All Seater Policy – SGSA Enforcement Approach for 23-24 (PDF) gives clarity and transparency to our role in enforcing the licence conditions. It sets out the reasonable steps clubs can take to reduce the safety risks associated with persistent standing.
The guidance outlines:
- Requirements of clubs to meet the licence conditions.
- Initial steps and further actions we expect clubs to put in place to address persistent standing.
- Ways clubs can minimise the safety risks for fans who still choose to stand in seated areas, despite the efforts of clubs.
- Introduce new requirements for clubs.
- Create new powers for the SGSA.
- Change the all-seater policy.
Download the document
SGSA Inspectors work closely with clubs around ways to reduce safety risks. This guidance brings together that advice into one document to help clarity, consistency and understanding.
Overview of changes
The majority of the 2023/24 document is the same as previous versions. However, the changes made include the following (these are detailed in the full within the document):
- Terminology: The terminology has been amended through the document, replacing ‘reasonable steps’ to ‘initial steps’. This is to signal that the ‘initial steps’ are the start of the journey towards compliance with the SGSA licence conditions, and not the end point.
- The further actions for grounds where the persistent standing safety risks remains, despite the initial steps being implemented. It outlines what management should do during the 2023/24 season to bring a ground back into compliance with the SGSA all-seater conditions.
- Ground management should apply to SGSA to operate licensed standing areas within two years of the installation of seats incorporating barriers and/or seats incorporating barriers for home and away supporters.
- Paragraph 31 and Table 1 proposes that if there is limited or no evidence of further action as outlined at paragraphs 23 and 25 being taken by ground management in response to identified safety risks associated with persistent standing, SGSA will move to formal, proportionate enforcement action (outlined at paragraph 42 onwards) during the 2023/24 season, targeting where the risks are greatest
The steps within the document aren’t new. It builds on the 2013 Joint Statement on Standing in seated areas (PDF) agreed by all of football’s governing voices.