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SGSA licence

The SGSA licence permits the admittance of fans to a sports ground.

The SGSA licenses grounds to admit spectators to watch designated football matches. It provides assurance that football grounds are safe.

Designated football matches those played at the home grounds of clubs in the Premier League and EFL Championship, League One and League Two, along with Wembley Stadium and the Principality Stadium

Our principal purpose is to ensure sports grounds are safe for everyone. We use our regulatory powers in a risk-based and proportionate way to ensure reasonable safety is maintained at the home grounds.

The Oversight and Licensing Policy outlines the detail of how we licence grounds.

Purpose of the licence

A key purpose of the licence concerns the risks attached to standing by spectators.

The SGSA’s approach is to ensure that:

  • The Government’s policy in relation to all-seater stadiums is enforced.
  • Licensed standing areas are operated in line with our specific criteria.
  • Any conventional terraced standing accommodation is of the specified standard.

Conditions in the licence do not apply to other (non-football) events taking place at those grounds. 

The number of spectators who may be admitted to licensed accommodation is limited to the capacity set out in the safety certificate issued by the relevant local authority.

Applying for a licence

The SGSA licence is valid for one year, from 1 August to 31 July annually.

Each year, we invite applications from all grounds we regulate. The application forms are issued in February each year. Each application is reviewed and evaluated by an SGSA Inspector, before the Chief Executive makes the decision to grant a licence.

The licence is then issued at the start of July, ahead of the next licensing period.

Licence fee

The SGSA licence fee is determined by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.

The licence fee covers the regulatory activities of the SGSA. It is apportioned to grounds based on the average attendance of a ground over the previous two full seasons.

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Oversight and Licensing Policy

The Oversight and Licensing Policy outlines the detail of how we licence grounds.

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Advice for National League clubs

Newly promoted grounds from the National League require the necessary capacity, certificate and licence.

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SGSA Inspector responsibilities

An overview of the clubs/grounds we licence and the SGSA Inspector responsible.

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SGSA licence fee

The SGSA licence fee is paid by football grounds and allows the admittance of spectators.

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Licence types

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All-seater policy

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Chelsea v Tottenham Hotspur - Pre Season Friendly

Licensed standing

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Regulatory activities

Each SGSA licensed ground has a dedicated Inspector, based in the region, to provide expert guidance and support. Every SGSA Inspector brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to support and guide grounds in ensuring the safety of spectators.

This approach helps the SGSA to deliver its advocacy-first approach to regulation and oversight, which has been successfully implemented over the last three decades.

To meet our regulatory duties, the SGSA conducts a number of formal visits and assessments at all licensed grounds throughout the season:

  • Matchday inspections. These are a central tool in overseeing the role of local authorities by witnessing the practical application of the General Safety Certificate conditions, and to ensure spectators are safe within grounds.
  • Ground assessments. These assessments help the SGSA discharge its statutory responsibilities in relation to licensing and local authority oversight. They involve first hand observations by Inspectors to assess how well a ground is complying with relevant safety at sports grounds.
  • Licence application assessments. These are the assessments of the annual licence applications submitted by grounds. They provide evidence that the relevant areas of the ground meet the safety standards required to be able to admit spectators.
  • Local authority audits. These assess from first-hand observations how well a local authority is ensuring compliance with relevant safety at sports grounds legislation by the ground(s) in its area subject to SGSA licensing.
  • Attendance at Safety Advisory Group (SAG) meetings. In 2022-23, SGSA Inspectors attended nearly two hundred SAGs, providing advice and support to local authorities and other partners, and promoting consistency in local decision-making.

Alongside formal activities, our Inspectors provide a range of informal and invaluable advice, including:

  • Providing expert advice to grounds during redevelopments and new builds at no additional cost. SGSA Inspectors impart valuable input into ground design and make useful comments that have helped clubs to make wise capital and revenue expenditure choices because of the experience and expertise in ground design, building control requirements and operational management.
  • Supporting grounds in the safe use of their venues for events beyond football, such as concerts and other entertainments. This has helped to expand the revenue streams for grounds both large and small.
  • Improvements in safety management procedures, such as the development of Operations Manuals, and the understanding of Zone Ex issues. This has helped to enhance the competency and capability of safety teams.
  • Protecting clubs from latent safety risks, such as persistent standing in seated areas. The SGSA has led the industry in addressing known risks related to standing in areas designed for seating, whilst also addressing the request from fans to have a choice whether to stand or sit at football matches.
  • Advising on technical issues, such as circulation in grounds and flow rates, which contribute to managing crowds safely and have led to identifying capacity increases.

Supporting grounds when responding to complex challenges, for example following the rescheduled Euros 2020 final in Wembley, in July 2021.

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