There are a number of pieces of legislation that relates to safety at sports grounds. Below we have outlined details of the relevant legislation
Safety of Sports Grounds Act 1975
Under the Safety of Sports Grounds Act 1975 the Secretary of State (for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) may designate any sports ground with accommodation for more than 10,000 spectators (or more than 5,000 spectators for grounds hosting Premier League / English Football League matches) as requiring a safety certificate to admit spectators. The 1975 Act also gives local authorities powers to issue such safety certificates to confirm that such sports grounds are safe.
Fire Safety and Safety of Places of Sports Act 1987
The Fire Safety and Safety of Places of Sports Act 1987 extends the provisions for local authority safety certification to include covered stands with accommodation for more than 500 spectators in sports grounds not designated under the 1975 Act. These are known as ‘regulated stands’
Football Spectators Act 1989
The Football Spectators Act 1989 was created to control the admissions 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.
The Football Licensing Authority (now the Sports Grounds Safety Authority) was established under this legislation to issue licences to admit spectators to designated matches, and to oversee local authorities’ safety certification functions at international stadia and Premier League / English Football League grounds in England and Wales.
Sports Grounds Safety Authority Act 2011
The Sports Ground Safety Authority Act 2011 created the SGSA, taking over the roles and responsibilities of the FLA, and establishing an advisory role for SGSA for general safety at sports grounds outside England and Wales and for sports other than football.
Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974
Under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, clubs must take reasonably practicable steps to ensure that spectators are not exposed to health and safety risks. Failure to do so is a criminal offence punishable by an unlimited fine. If a fan is injured as a result of a club’s failure to prevent a known safety risk, this is likely to be an offence under the Act.
Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007
Under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 a club could be liable for prosecution and unlimited fines if a fan is killed as a result of serious management failures resulting in a gross breach of a duty of care. This could be relevant if there were to be a systemic safety failure at a ground that the club’s management knew about and failed to take action.
Sporting Events (Control of Alcohol etc.) Act 1985
The Sporting Events (Control of Alcohol etc.) Act 1985 prevents the consumption of alcohol within view of the playing area including, during the restricted period (15 minutes before the start of the event to 15 minutes after the end of the event), rooms within the ground from which the event may be directly viewed. It also prevents drunken entry into a football ground (which, in practice, to be an arrestable offence includes disorderly behaviour), the consumption of alcohol on certain coaches, trains and motor vehicles travelling to a designated football match, and the possession of fireworks or flares.
Other legislation-related information