Reflections on 2018

Ken Scott, SGSA’s Head of Inspectorate, reflects on his 2018:

It certainly is a sign of getting old when Christmas’ seem to come along more than once per year.  Is it really 12 months since we last donned our Christmas jumpers?  And what a 12 months it has been.

Who would have thought that the England supporters amongst us would maintain an interest beyond the group stages at the superb World Cup tournament in Russia this summer?  It really sets the bar high for 2022 in Qatar…both for the hosts and the England team.

The last 12 months have been a blur for me, dominated by the work to finish the sixth edition of the Green Guide.  This culminated in the publishing of the Guide and launch on 30 October. It was a real team effort for us to cross the line.  Feedback to date has been excellent, and so too have the sales, with the document being sent across the world – a testimony to the status and position in which the Guide is held by fellow professionals globally…and making the hard work worth it.

It never ceases to amaze me on my travels that the Green Guide is a major talking point, especially in recent months when everyone was quizzing me on the final content.  It’s by far the Sports Grounds Safety Authority’s most significant calling card and something we can all be proud of.

Beyond the Green Guide, quite a bit of my time has been spent ruminating over the topic of standing at football matches.  It’s good that we are having a healthy debate and gathering evidence on the issue.  This is aided by engineering developments to widen the range of potential solutions to the issue of persistent standing in seated areas.  The SGSA has throughout the process played a full and active part in the debate, and will continue to do.

The SGSA’s expanded role of advising others sports and internationally has dominated quite a bit of my time in recent months.  In particular, I have been working closely with supporting Sport Northern Ireland and the Department for Communities in delivering the Government’s Regional Stadia Programme in Belfast.

Internationally, work in Africa for FIFA, together with the support to the Council of Europe in preparations for Euro 2020 have also been key areas of activity as the high reputation and integrity of the SGSA becomes even more in demand.

So what will 2019 bring?  Amongst many new projects, the SGSA will continue to work with clubs who are looking to relocate to new stadia or redevelop/re-engineer existing stadia to lend support to clubs and local authorities.  This piece of work has been quite intense during the last 12 months as designers, quite understandably, were keen to get an early warning of changes to the Green Guide in an attempt to future proof designs.

The work of the SGSA can only be achieved through the hard work and dedication of ‘Team SGSA’, who all pull together despite increasing workloads to deliver a high quality and much sought after product.  This is something that will continue into 2019.