A safety certificate will set the permitted capacity for a 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.
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.
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.
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.
The Guide to Safety at Sports Grounds (Green Guide) provides detailed guidance on calculating how many spectators can be safely accommodated within the viewing accommodation of a sports ground. The Guide also provides advice on measures to improve safety at sports grounds.
Although the Guide has no statutory force many of its recommendations will be given the force of law at individual grounds by their inclusion in the safety certificate for that ground.
To assist the local authorities discharge their functions under the 1975 Act, at grounds at which designated football matches are played, the SGSA has produced a Guide to Safety Certification document, which provides a single source of reference on the safety certification process, monitoring and enforcement.