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. These are sports grounds that, in his opinion, have accommodation for more than 10,000 spectators, or 5,000 in the case of Premiership or Football League grounds in England and Wales.

The 1975 Act defines a sports ground as a place where sports or other competitive activities take place in the open air, and where accommodation has been provided for spectators, consisting of artificial structures, or of natural structures artificially modified for the purpose.

A safety certificate will set the permitted capacity for the sports ground together with the detailed terms and conditions with which the ground management must comply in order to operate the sports ground at its permitted capacity.

Although the safety certificate is issued by the local authority responsibility for the safety of spectators at the sports ground rests at all time with the sports ground management. This will normally be the owner or the lessee of the sports ground. More detailed information on safety certificates and the safety certification process is available in the Guide to Safety Certification.

What does the legislation on sports ground safety say about conditions in a Safety Certificate?

Section 2 (1) of the Safety of Sports Grounds Act 1975 states that: “A safety certificate shall contain such terms and conditions as the local authority considers necessary or expedient to secure reasonable safety at the sports ground when it is being used for the specified activity or activities…”