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 Sports Grounds Safety Authority publication “Safety Certification“.

If you wish to contact the relevant local authority responsible for issuing the safety certificate to any premier of football league club please click here.

Check the regulations

Which parts of a ground should be covered by a Safety Certificate?

The terms and conditions of the safety certificate should cover all areas to which the spectators have access, including restaurants, licensed bars, and concourses.

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.

I’m a new Safety Officer, what do I need to know?

As a Safety Officer, you will need to be aware that the primary purpose of a safety certificate is to set the safe capacity of a designated ground or of a regulated stand at a non–designated ground. Find out more here

Licences issued by SGSA

The annual licence issued by the SGSA to each club specifies the areas of the ground to which spectators may be admitted. Read about the process and download the forms here.

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.

Alcohol – what are the rules?

The Sporting Events (Control of Alcohol etc.) Act 1985 legislates the use of alcohol at football matches.

Tools and resources

Guide to Safety Certification

This guidance updates and supersedes the guidance on safety certification issued by the Football Licensing Authority (FLA) in 2001.

Model Safety Certificate

You can download a template for a safety certificate here

Preventing Crowd Disorder and Anti-Social Behaviour

Guidance is available from the Sports Grounds Safety Authority (SGSA) on preventing crowd disorder and anti-social behaviour at sports grounds.

Safety Certificate Checklist

This checklist may be helpful for certifying authorities when checking safety certificates for possible changes as a result of the wider understanding of safety

Guidance

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.