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Clear, efficient and reliable communications are an integral part of any event safety management operation.

Communication requirements will vary according to the type of ground, the nature of the sport and event, and the number of spectators in attendance.

In general, the provision of all communication systems should also be determined after consultation with the emergency services, and, where a safety certificate is in force, the local authority. Communication systems should also conform to the relevant British Standards or Codes of Practice.

Chapter 16 of the Green Guide provides full information on communications systems.

Inter-personal communications

Good communications are not only dependent on the provision
of modern equipment or advanced systems, but by clear inter-personal dialogue.

Inter-personal communications, whether verbal or non-verbal, face to face or via radios, pagers, telephones, messaging or other means, need also to be clear and concise at all times.

As part of the training and briefings it should be emphasised that individuals should communicate in a manner that is:

  • readily understood,
  • follows agreed protocols, and
  • there should be no confusion as to the use of specific terms, or to the meaning of instructions or directions.

For many spectators the only direct contact they have with ground management may be with staff or stewards. So it’s crucial that any information is clearly given, accurate, and in accord with the policies of the safety management team.

False or confusing information, rudeness or unhelpfulness are all examples of poor communication, and are thus a weak link in the safety chain.

Radio communications

At most grounds, regardless of their scale, radio will form the main means of communication between the control point and all stewards (or stewards’ supervisors) and all medical and first aid personnel.

There are a number of points to follow when considering radio communications, including:

  • It is recommended that a licensed frequency should be used for all radio communications. This is because unassigned frequencies can be interrupted by external radio traffic and important safety messages might be compromised. Advice on the use of licensed frequencies is available from the Office of Communications (Ofcom).
  • The provision of a separate command channel between the control point and key safety personnel (such as the Chief Steward, supervisors, medical operatives or first aiders) should also be considered.
  • If possible there should also be a backup radio channel within the system.
  • There should be one individual in the control point to act as the main radio operator. This individual’s role should also include the logging of
    radio communications.

Telephone communications

Ideally, but particularly at larger grounds, two distinct and independent telephone systems should be designated for internal and external communications.

  • Internal system – which may be in addition to, or in certain cases take the place of radio communications – should take the form of a telephone link from the control room to key or strategic points around the ground.
  • External system – telephone lines should also be available for direct and immediate telephone communication between the control point and the fire service and/or other emergency services, and between the first aid room and external telephone lines. This is to ensure that if the switchboard or the power supply fail, this external telephone line will still operate.

External telephone lines designated for emergency purposes should not be used for any other purposes.

Whilst mobile telephones can be useful for general operational communications, dependency on them in an emergency should be strongly discouraged.

PA systems

Other than direct personal contact with staff and stewards, the main form of communication between the management and spectators will be the public address (PA) system.

The design and specifications of this system should be geared primarily
towards its required operational capacity when used in an emergency, and not for its use solely as a means of relaying entertainment to areas of viewing accommodation.

The PA system should meet the a number of requirements including:

  • Intelligibility – The system should allow for broadcast messages to be heard under reasonable conditions (including emergencies), by all persons of normal hearing in any part of the ground to which the public has access.
  • Zoning – At larger grounds, PA systems should ideally be designed so that announcements can be broadcast to individual zones, both inside and outside the ground, to groups of zones, and to the whole ground.
  • Override facility – The public address system should not be operated from the control point. However, the PA system’s design should allow for an operator to override the system in order to broadcast emergency messages, either to the whole ground or to specific zones.
  • Backup power supply – There should be a back up system to enable it to continue to function at full load in an emergency, such as a fire or a failure of the mains supply, for up to three hours.
  • Backup loud hailers – In the event of a failure of the public address system, loud hailers should be available for the use of stewards and police in all parts of the ground.
  • Inspections and tests – Once a PA system has been installed, tested and approved, a commissioning certificate should be issued annually, confirming that it meets all the current, relevant standards. In addition to regular pre-event checks, it should also be inspected and tested bi-annually, and an inspection certificate obtained that is accompanied by a report with findings.
  • Spectators who are deaf or hard of hearing – Where a hearing enhancement system is installed to provide match commentaries, it should also be used for relaying important safety information. Wherever possible management should also relay safety information on screens.


Closed circuit television systems (CCTV) are an essential component of the safe management of sports grounds.

It offers three fundamental purposes:

  • Monitoring crowds
  • Identify incidents
  • Provide recordings for evidential purposes as needed.
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Scoreboards and screens

Scoreboards or screens should not be operated from the control point but from another location within the ground, such as the room or booth used by the public address announcer.

In consultation with the police and the emergency services, management should pre-arrange and script the contents and graphics of all safety-related and emergency messages to be displayed on scoreboards and screens. These messages should, furthermore, be displayed in co-ordination with the broadcast of pre-prepared and preferably pre-recorded public address announcements.

Their content should take into account the fact that people who are deaf or hard of hearing may rely entirely upon the visual information on scoreboards and screens.


Good information signage is essential for movement to, around and from the stadium.

Clear, legible and suitably positioned signs and ground plans are a vital part of any sports ground’s communications network.

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