Licences issued by SGSA
What is the licence for?
The primary purpose of the licensing scheme is to enforce the Government’s policy that all clubs in the FA Premier League and Football League Championship plus Wembley and the Principality Stadium must have all-seated stadia and that any standing accommodation in Football Leagues 1 and 2 is of the prescribed standard.
The annual licence issued to each club specifies the areas of the ground to which spectators may be admitted. Under the provisions of the 1989 Act it is an offence to admit spectators to any of the above grounds, or parts of those grounds, which are not licensed. Conditions in the licence do not apply to other (non-football) events taking place at those grounds. Club’s promoted into the Football League Championship for the first time are allowed up to 3 years to convert the ground to all seated accommodation.
If a club is promoted to the Championship and is subsequently relegated at the end of the season the club will have two years from the date of its next promotion to the Championship in which to meet the all seated requirement in its stadium. In other words if a club is relegated the “all seated” clock is not turned back, it merely stops ticking. Clubs promoted into the Football League for the first time have a maximum of 3 years to bring their terracing up to the prescribed standard.
Applying for a licence
The annual licence issued by the SGSA to each club specifies the areas of the ground to which spectators may be admitted. Under the provisions of the 1989 Act it is an offence to admit spectators to any of the above grounds, or parts of those grounds, which are not licensed. Conditions in the licence do not apply to other (non-football) events taking place at those grounds.
Club’s promoted into the Football League Championship for the first time are allowed up to 3 years to convert the ground to all seated accommodation.
It is an offence to admit spectators to any unlicensed accommodation during a designated football match.
The number of spectators who may be admitted to licensed accommodation is limited to the capacity set out in the safety certificate issued by the relevant local authority
When is a license needed?
The 1975 Act empowers the Secretary of State to designate any sports ground, which, in his opinion, 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 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.
If you would like further information on licensing then please contact us
Check the regulations
What is a Safety Certificate?
Under the provisions of the Safety of Sports Grounds Act 1975 (the 1975 Act), county councils, unitary authorities, metropolitan or London boroughs are responsible for issuing and enforcing a safety certificates in respect of any sports ground in their area which has been designated by the Secretary of State.
Legislation related to Policing
Responsibility for the safety of spectators lies at all times with ground management. However, at certain sports grounds and for certain matches or events the presence of the police may be required to maintain public order. This page provides relevant information from legislation relating to policing in sports grounds.
Monitoring Local Authorities
The SGSA has published guidance on Safety Certification which provides a single source of reference on the principles and procedures governing the safety certification of sports grounds. The SGSA uses this document as a yardstick when keeping under review local authorities which come within its regulatory oversight.
All Seated Football Stadiums
Lord Justice Taylor’s Report of the Inquiry into the Hillsborough Stadium Disaster recommended that all grounds in the old First and Second Divisions of the Football League (now FA Premier League and Football League Championship) should be all-seated by August 1994. Lord Justice Taylor also recommended that clubs in the former Third and Fourth Divisions (the current Leagues 1 and 2) of the Football League should be all-seated by August 1999.
Tools and resources
A Wider Definition of Safety – Local Authority Checklist
This document contains a series of questions that certifying authorities may wish to consider to check their progress in ensuring that the wider understanding of safety has been adopted by sports grounds to whom they issue safety certificates under the 1975 and 1987 Acts.
Responses to the consultation on a Wider Definition of Safety
In February 2017, the SGSA issued a consultation that sought the views of stakeholders on the implications of a review of the term ‘safety’ in the Safety of Sports Grounds Act 1975. The responses to this consultation can be downloaded here.
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.
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.