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Regulatory support

The SGSA has two regulatory duties: to licence the Premier League, EFL and international football grounds, and oversee local authorities in safety certification.

SGSA licensing

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Advice for National League clubs

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SGSA licence

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Licensed standing

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Local authorities and safety certification

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Safety Advisory Groups

A SAG is an essential way of ensuring good liaison between stakeholders.

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Local authority oversight

The SGSA oversees local authorities in their duties to sports grounds safety and safety certification

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Safety certification

The Safety of Sports Grounds Act 1975 introduced a system of safety certification of sports grounds by local authorities. 

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Saint-Denis Convention

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Legislation

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Research

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FAQs

‘SIA Licensable activities’ at a SGSA licensed ground are:

  1. Stewards searching spectators on their entry to the ground.
  2. Stewards specifically tasked with physically intervening against and ejecting spectators who are in breach of ground regulations. This includes decisions on refusal of entry.
  3. The supervisors of those stewards in categories a and b immediately above.
  4. In a non-front-line capacity, safety officers and chief stewards.

Stewards in safety or customer service roles whose duties do not include searching, ejections or physically intervening where spectators are in breach of ground regulations are not carrying out licensable activities.

These principles were agreed by the football authorities and the then Football Licensing Authority in 2006 when the exemption was first introduced.

‘Licensable activities’ under the Private Security Industry Act 2001 are outlined at gov.uk.

Any steward undertaking SIA licensable activities must have an SIA door supervisor licence.

HOWEVER

Under the sports ground exemption, in-house sports ground staff do not need a licence.

INSTEAD

In-house staff conducting the SIA licensable activities must have an equivalent level of training and vetting.

No. A Safety Advisory Group (SAG) is not a corporate or decision-making body. Instead, it is there to assist a local authority discharge its legal responsibilities.

The Safety at Sports Grounds Act 1975 empowers the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport 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. 

The local authority should notify the Secretary of State of any sports ground likely to require designation, or become de-designated.

As of 31 January 2024, there are 14 grounds which have licensed, safe standing sections in:

Birmingham City FC, Brentford FC, Cardiff City FC, Chelsea FC, Derby County FC, Liverpool FC, Manchester City FC, Manchester United FC, Newcastle United FC, Portsmouth FC, Queens Park Ranger FC, Tottenham Hotspur FC, Wembley Stadium and Wolvehampton Wanderers FC.

The need to maximise revenue has led to many sports grounds being used for a variety of purposes beyond the sport for which they were originally designed. This has led to a number of local authorities questioning which events should be covered by the provisions of a safety certificate.

The SGSA does not consider that it was intended that all events held in any part of a designated sports ground to which the public are admitted are required to be specified in a sports ground safety certificate issued under the Safety of Sports Grounds Act 1975 (1975 Act).

Section 2(1) of the 1975 Act provides that:

“A safety certificate shall contain such terms and conditions as the local authority consider necessary or expedient to secure the reasonable safety at the sports ground when it is in use for the specified activity or activities ….”

The Act does not define what can be included as a specified activity. However, section 12(1)(b) provides that it is an offence if:

“when a general safety certificate is in operation in respect of a sports ground spectators are admitted to a sports ground on an occasion when it is used for an activity to which neither the general safety certificate nor a special safety certificate relates”

and in the interpretations at section 17 “spectator” is defined as “any person occupying accommodation provided for spectators at a sports ground”.

The SGSA has therefore always taken the view, based on sections 12(1)(b) and 17, that if persons are using the terracing or seating decks to view an activity at the sports ground that activity should be specified in either the general safety certificate or a special safety certificate. So, for example, a firework display which is to be viewed by spectators from the stands, a religious festival where an altar/stage is erected on the pitch and those attending sit in the stands, or a concert which is viewed by spectators from the pitch and the stands would in our view need to be included as specified activities as those admitted to the sports grounds would fall within the definition of a spectator as they are “occupying accommodation provided for spectators at a sports ground”.

Accommodation is not defined in the 1975 Act. However, the ordinary meaning of “accommodation”within the context of the Act suggests a contained, organised viewing area. Therefore it might not always be the case that a safety certificate will only be required for those events for which people occupy existing standing terraces or seating decks to view the activity.

For example if the existing standing terraces or seating decks are not used to view the activity, but instead another part of the sports ground is modified, for example by the installation of temporary structures, from which spectators will view the event, it should be considered a specified activity which will need to be covered by a safety certificate.

A ‘regulated stand’ is defined in the Fire Safety and Safety of Places of Sport
Act 1987) (the 1987 Act) as a sports ground with a covered stand with a
seated or standing capacity of 500 or more. It requires the stand to have in
place a general safety certificate from the certifying authority.

Best practice for the design and planning of safe sports grounds.

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