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Frequently Asked Questions

SIA licence

The SIA sports grounds exemption relates to in-house stewards conducting ‘licensable activities’ at a sports ground.

No. Those stewards undertaking licensable activities need a standard DBS check as outlined at paragraph 18.2 of the SIA Sports Grounds Exemption Policy Guidance, as part of demonstrating equivalence with SIA licence holder vetting arrangements.

If the safety officer is employed directly by the ground, they do not need to have an SIA licence but must be subject to a DBS check. However, if not employed directly by the ground, they will need an SIA licence.

Searching is a licensable activity. Therefore, only agency staff with a SIA Door Supervisor licence or in-house staff with equivalent training and vetting can carry out searching.

Yes. Because of the exemption, in-house stewards that are employed by the ground/club can carry out licensable activities.

SIA staff should not carry out standard stewarding duties without the appropriate Level 2 spectator safety qualification, or confirmation they are working towards it. Before working alone, the agency staff will need to evidence they have complied with the requirements of section 4.10 of the Green Guide.

Yes, the exemption applies at any sports ground subject to a General Safety Certificate or with a regulated stand.

‘SIA Licensable activities’ at a SGSA licensed ground are:

  1. Stewards searching spectators on their entry to the ground.
  2. Stewards specifically tasked with physically intervening against and ejecting spectators who are in breach of ground regulations. This includes decisions on refusal of entry.
  3. The supervisors of those stewards in categories a and b immediately above.
  4. In a non-front-line capacity, safety officers and chief stewards.

Stewards in safety or customer service roles whose duties do not include searching, ejections or physically intervening where spectators are in breach of ground regulations are not carrying out licensable activities.

These principles were agreed by the football authorities and the then Football Licensing Authority in 2006 when the exemption was first introduced.

‘Licensable activities’ under the Private Security Industry Act 2001 are outlined at

Any steward undertaking SIA licensable activities must have an SIA door supervisor licence.


Under the sports ground exemption, in-house sports ground staff do not need a licence.


In-house staff conducting the SIA licensable activities must have an equivalent level of training and vetting.

SGSA licence

The SGSA licences grounds to admit spectators to football grounds.

As of 31 January 2024, there are 14 grounds which have licensed, safe standing sections in:

Birmingham City FC, Brentford FC, Cardiff City FC, Chelsea FC, Derby County FC, Liverpool FC, Manchester City FC, Manchester United FC, Newcastle United FC, Portsmouth FC, Queens Park Ranger FC, Tottenham Hotspur FC, Wembley Stadium and Wolvehampton Wanderers FC.

The SGSA licence permits the admittance of spectators to designate football grounds. That is, any ground of clubs in the Premier League, Championship, League 1 or League 2, along with football matches at Wembley Stadium and the Principality Stadium.

The SGSA has no statutory role in relation to such clubs.

Nevertheless, the SGSA is always happy to respond to any requests for advice and it will always endeavour to do so to the highest possible standard.

However, because it has no statutory role in this area, its advice will always have to be given on a without prejudice basis. It will be for the club and/or the football authorities to determine whether or not to take it.

Clubs can contact us to ask for advice.

An SGSA licence is required to watch a designated football match. So the home grounds of clubs in the Premier League or EFL Championship, League 1 and League 2, along with Wembley Stadium and the Principality Stadium require a licence.

The licence must be in place before any spectator can be admitted to watch a football match at that ground.


Local authorities issue safety certificates to grounds.

The Safety at Sports Grounds Act 1975 empowers the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport 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. 

The local authority should notify the Secretary of State of any sports ground likely to require designation, or become de-designated.

The need to maximise revenue has led to many sports grounds being used for a variety of purposes beyond the sport for which they were originally designed. This has led to a number of local authorities questioning which events should be covered by the provisions of a safety certificate.

The SGSA does not consider that it was intended that all events held in any part of a designated sports ground to which the public are admitted are required to be specified in a sports ground safety certificate issued under the Safety of Sports Grounds Act 1975 (1975 Act).

Section 2(1) of the 1975 Act provides that:

“A safety certificate shall contain such terms and conditions as the local authority consider necessary or expedient to secure the reasonable safety at the sports ground when it is in use for the specified activity or activities ….”

The Act does not define what can be included as a specified activity. However, section 12(1)(b) provides that it is an offence if:

“when a general safety certificate is in operation in respect of a sports ground spectators are admitted to a sports ground on an occasion when it is used for an activity to which neither the general safety certificate nor a special safety certificate relates”

and in the interpretations at section 17 “spectator” is defined as “any person occupying accommodation provided for spectators at a sports ground”.

The SGSA has therefore always taken the view, based on sections 12(1)(b) and 17, that if persons are using the terracing or seating decks to view an activity at the sports ground that activity should be specified in either the general safety certificate or a special safety certificate. So, for example, a firework display which is to be viewed by spectators from the stands, a religious festival where an altar/stage is erected on the pitch and those attending sit in the stands, or a concert which is viewed by spectators from the pitch and the stands would in our view need to be included as specified activities as those admitted to the sports grounds would fall within the definition of a spectator as they are “occupying accommodation provided for spectators at a sports ground”.

Accommodation is not defined in the 1975 Act. However, the ordinary meaning of “accommodation”within the context of the Act suggests a contained, organised viewing area. Therefore it might not always be the case that a safety certificate will only be required for those events for which people occupy existing standing terraces or seating decks to view the activity.

For example if the existing standing terraces or seating decks are not used to view the activity, but instead another part of the sports ground is modified, for example by the installation of temporary structures, from which spectators will view the event, it should be considered a specified activity which will need to be covered by a safety certificate.

The advertising of changes to safety certificates is a legal requirement imposed on local authorities under the provisions of Safety of Sports Grounds Regulations 1987 and the Safety of Places of Sport Regulations 1988.

Accordingly, as the law stands, the notice must be published in the local paper to be effective. Local authorities can publish the notice on their website, but it must be in addition to publishing the notice in the local paper rather as an alternative.

A designated sports ground is any which in the opinion of the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport has accommodation for more than 10,000 spectators, or 5,000 spectators in the case of Premiership or Football League grounds in England and Wales.

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