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Safety of Sports Grounds Act 1975

Summary of the functions and powers of local authorities under the 1975 Act.

The Safety of Sports Grounds Act 1975 makes provision for the Secretary of State (for Culture, Media and Sport) to designate any sports ground with accommodation for more than 10,000 spectators (or more than 5,000 spectators for grounds hosting Premier League / English Football League matches) as requiring a safety certificate to admit spectators.

The 1975 Act also gives local authorities powers to issue such safety certificates to confirm that such sports grounds are safe. 

Below is a summary of the functions and powers provided under the 1975 Act.

Local authority safety certification functions and powers

S1 (1) 

The Secretary of State may by order designate a sports ground requiring a safety certificate under this Act which in his opinion has accommodation of more than 10,000 spectators.


Secretary of State may by order substitute the number specified in S1(1) for any other number. No order shall affect the validity of any previous designation made.

Note: The Secretary of State has used this order making power to specify that Premier League / English Football League grounds with accommodation for more than 5,000 spectators should also require a certificate under this Act.


A safety certificate may be issued by the local authority in which the stadium is situated for a number of activities specified in the certificate during an indefinite period,


or issued in respect of an occasion or a series of occasions specified.

SGSA oversight of local authority


SGSA has the function of keeping under review the discharge of local authorities’ safety certification responsibilities under the Safety of Sports Grounds Act 1975 (‘the 1975 Act’) at which designated football matches are played.


SGSA may by notice in writing to a local authority require them to include in any safety certificate terms or conditions which are specified in the notice, and it shall be the duty of the local authority to comply with the requirements.

This is not restricted to football matches and can include any activities undertaken at the ground.

The local authority has no right of appeal against the SGSA’s notice to include terms and conditions in the safety certificate (S13(8)).


Gives Inspectors appointed by the SGSA the powers to enter a sports ground at which designated football matches are played, make inspectors of such a sports ground, and examine the safety certificate and any records kept under the 1975 Act.


SGSA may request in writing to the local authority to supply information relating to the discharge by the local authority of the functions under the 1975 Act, and the local authority must comply with such a request.

What is included in a safety certificate

S2 (1) 

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


A safety certificate may include a condition that records shall be kept of (i) attendance of spectators at the ground and (ii) safety maintenance records.


A safety certificate shall include a plan of the ground, and the terms and conditions in the certificate shall be framed by reference to the plan.

S2(3) & (5)

A safety certificate may include records of spectator attendance, and records relating to maintenance of safety.  May include different terms and conditions in relation to different activities.

Powers of local authority when considering a safety certificate application


The local authority has a duty upon receiving an application for a safety certificate to determine if the applicant is a qualified person.

A qualified person is someone likely to be in a position to prevent contravention of the terms and conditions of a certificate.


The local authority must send a copy of the application for a safety certificate to the Chief Officer of Police [and the building authority if different from the local authority].

The local authority must consult them regarding the terms and conditions to be included in the certificate.


The local authority may by notice in writing require the applicant for a safety certificate to give information within a reasonable time including plans as they consider necessary to enable them to determine what terms and conditions should be included.


Failure to comply with S3(4) will be deemed as a withdrawal of the application.

Amending Safety Certificates and Right of Appeal

S4(1) & (2)

The local authority may amend or replace a safety certificate by notice in writing either with or without an application from the certificate holder.


The notice amending the safety certificate shall state the date the amendment comes into force. The date specified may be later than the date of issue of the notice.


Upon receiving an application to transfer a safety certificate to another person, it shall be the duty of the local authority to determine if that person is a qualified person. A copy of this transfer must be sent to the chief officer of police.


The local authority must consult the chief of police about any proposal to amend, replace or transfer a safety certificate.


The local authority shall serve a notice in writing on a person they consider not to be a suitably qualified person to hold a safety certificate. That person may appeal to the court against the notice.


A special safety certificate applicant may appeal to the [court] against a refusal of their application on grounds other than they are not a qualified person.


Interested parties may appeal to the [court] against (i) the inclusion of anything in, or the omission of anything from, a safety certificate, or (ii) the refusal of the local authority to amend/replace a certificate. They may not appeal against the inclusion of anything required to be in a safety certificate by the Football Spectators Act 1989.

Interested parties include: (i) the holder of a safety certificate (ii) chief of police, (iii) building authority (if different from LA), (iv) fire and rescue authority (if different from LA) or (iv) any other person who may be concerned with ensuring the compliance with the terms and conditions of the safety certificate.


The Secretary of Stage may by regulations prescribe the procedure for local authorities to use for the issue, amendment, replacement, transfer and cancellation of the safety certificate.


Where a safety certificate is in operation and alterations or extensions to the stadium are proposed which are likely to affect the safety of the sports ground, the holder of the certificate must give notice of the proposals to the local authority before they are carried out

Special procedures in case of serious risk: prohibition notices and enforcement

S10 (1) 

If the local authority considers the admission of spectators to all or part of a sports ground will involve risks so serious as to require immediate action, they may issue a prohibition notice closing all or part of the ground until such time as steps have been taken to reduce risks to a reasonable level.

S10 (2)-(4)

Prohibition notice will specify the matters that give risk to the risk, and direct that no, or no more than a certain number of spectators will be admitted to all or part of the ground either generally or on a specified occasion until the specified matters have been remedied. The prohibition notice may include directions as to the steps which have to be taken to reduce the risk to a reasonable level including alterations or additions to the ground.

S10 (8) 

The local authority will send a copy of the prohibition notice to the Chief Officer of Police.


Any person aggrieved by a prohibition notice may appeal to the court against the notice within the relevant time.


The local authority is responsible for the enforcement of the provisions of the Act within their area, and for the periodic inspection of designated sports grounds within their area.

Powers of entry


A person authorised by the local authority, the Chief Officer of Police, or the Secretary State, has the power to enter a designated sports ground at any reasonable time to make an inspection of it and inquiries relating to it as they consider necessary for the purposes of the Act, including examination of records on attendance of spectators and maintenance of safety at the ground.



Detail a range of scenarios which represent offences under the Act, including (i) admitting spectators to the ground when no safety certificate is in place, or when the activity taking place at the ground is not covered in the certificate, and (ii) contravening one or more of the terms and conditions in the safety certificate. The responsible person guilty of the offence shall be liable to pay an unlimited fine, or imprisonment of up to 2 years, or both.


The responsible person has the potential defence that they did not consent to the contravention, or that they took all reasonable precautions and exercised all due diligence to avoid the commission of such an offence.

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