About Designated Grounds

Under the provisions of the Safety of Sports Grounds Act 1975 the local authority is responsible for issuing and enforcing a safety certificate in respect of a sports ground designated by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.

What is a designated ground?

The Secretary of State may designate any sports ground which in his opinion has accommodation for more than 10,000 spectators – 5,000 in the case of Premiership or Football League grounds in England and Wales.

How do I apply for a ground to be designated or de-designated?

The 1975 Act empowers the Secretary of State 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. This function is performed by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.

The Secretary of State will normally be aware of major new sports grounds under construction but may not always have been informed of developments that might increase the capacity of an existing sports ground above the threshold for designation. It is therefore incumbent upon the local authority to notify the Secretary of State of any sports ground likely to require designation. It should give at least ten weeks’ notice, so that the Secretary of State has sufficient time to be satisfied that the sports ground meets the criteria. As part of this process, the Secretary of State will formally consult the local authority, the sports ground owner, the emergency services and, where it will have a statutory role, the SGSA.

The notification to the Secretary of State should include the proposed capacity of the sports ground, together with its full postal address as soon as this is known. While this may appear pedantic, and can be difficult to supply for new sports grounds where the precise address has not been fixed, it is the only certain means of identification. While the name of the sports ground may change, the postal address rarely does.

The designation order remains in force unless or until formally revoked by the Secretary of State. If a designated sports ground is demolished or is permanently modified, so as to reduce the capacity below the threshold, the local authority should formally notify the Secretary of State and request that it be de-designated. Should the local authority not do so, the certificate holder may apply directly to the Secretary of State.


What is the Statement of Intent?

If there is to be a police presence in or at the sports ground, management should discuss with the police the division of responsibilities and functions between the two parties; for example, whether particular tasks are to be undertaken by stewards or by police officers, and who will assume responsibility in particular circumstances. The outcome of these discussions should be recorded in a written and signed statement of intent.

Support for Local Authorities – Policies and Procedures

To assist local authorities develop appropriate policies and procedures, or to review existing ones, the SGSA has produced guidance which explains what should be included in an authority’s policies and procedures for the issue and review of a safety certificate, for the monitoring of compliance with the terms and conditions of a safety certificate and for the enforcement of the 1975 and 1987 Acts.

Safety for all at sports grounds

This guidance note describes the interactions between the different legislation in this area and the impacts on the safety management of a sports ground thereby protecting all those present, including spectators, staff, contractors and participants.

My club has been promoted; what do I need to know?

Information to help Football Conference clubs understand the requirements that will be placed upon them following promotion to the Football League and to provide links to sources of detailed information which will help them in planning how to meet those requirements.