Advice on Drones

You may be familiar with the scenes from the Partizan stadium during the Serbia v Albania Euro 2016 qualifying game, when a drone carrying a pro-Albanian flag landed on the pitch. The violence that ensued both on the pitch and in the stands is a reminder of how quickly situations can change.

In recent weeks the skies over the UK have also seen an increased number of unmanned aircraft. Known as drones, these aircraft have been carrying cameras, filming above stadiums and capturing games and the images are being posted on the internet.

This is an emerging issue and we have not seen widespread use of these at sports grounds in the past. These recent incidents have highlighted the potential safety and security risks.

While the majority of sports grounds with safety certificates have standard operating and contingency plans in place in order to respond to unplanned incidents, clubs may wish to review their contingency plans to consider potential safety and security risks from the use of drones.

What are the risks of drones in sports grounds?

  • Loss of control of the drone over spectators.
  • Loss of control of the drone over or near a structure or building.
  • Potential disruption to the sporting event, and possible consequences of that disruption.
  • Potential terrorist activity.

What should I be doing to reduce the risk of drones in my sports ground?

  • Gathering evidence of use of drones within the ground through CCTV, photographs etc.
  • Asking stewards and staff outside the ground to remain vigilant, and if appropriate look for the operator (many devices have to be operated within a 100m radius).
  • Advising staff on actions to take whilst the drone is within the stadium, which may include providing reassurance to spectators and continuing with existing duties.
  • Identifying staff to monitor the drone’s activity from different locations to enable quick reaction to any potential issues.
  • Considering communication with spectators via PA system, for example around authorised or unauthorised activity, reassurance messages etc.
  • Considering whether any ancillary activity is due to take place that may affect the drone, for example pyrotechnics.
  • Contacting Police and/or the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
  • Considering what other contingency plans might be required or affected should an incident occur.

We will continue to monitor the situation and update via Twitter.


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Tools and resources

Standing in Seated Areas

In this paper, from 2013, we examine the nature and causes of spectators standing in seated areas at Premier and Football League grounds.

Safety Advisory Group – Terms of Reference Checklist

Certifying authorities considering whether to make changes to the SAG Terms of Reference as a result of the wider understanding of safety may find this checklist helpful.

Safety Management

Safety management at sports grounds has steadily become more sophisticated and more professional over the past twenty years. “Safety Management” draws together good practice on safety personnel, safety management procedures, event management and preparing for incidents.

Safety Certificate Checklist

This checklist may be helpful for certifying authorities when checking safety certificates for possible changes as a result of the wider understanding of safety


Reducing slip hazards on concourses

Advice and guidance on reducing slip hazards on concourses. with links to additional guidance via the Health and Safety Executive website.

How to calculate the safe capacity of a sports ground?

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. Further information and detail is available in the Green Guide.