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.

The safety certificate should also cover any other areas and all matters, over which the management of the sports ground has either direct or indirect control, which may affect the safety of spectators at the sports ground. This could encompass offices or players’ facilities within a stand, media facilities and car parks.

The certificate holder cannot be held responsible for circumstances outside his control, for example hazards presented by local industrial premises or restricted access for emergency vehicles because of congestion on the public highway, even if these could adversely affect the safety of spectators at the sports ground. However, the local authority may reasonably take account of any such factors, together with the sports ground management’s plans for responding to them, when setting the permitted capacity.

The safety of spectators beyond the curtilage of the sports ground falls outside the scope of the 1975 and 1987 Acts and of the safety certificate.

Check the regulations

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

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.

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

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


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.