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Five top messages from the Green Guide Briefings

Over the last few weeks our Inspectors have been travelling the country on our Green Guide Regional Briefings.  Over 400 people have attended the five sessions we’ve held.  For those unable to attend, here are the top five messages from the briefings:

  1. The most important chapter of the Green Guide is Chapter 1

For those familiar with the previous edition of the Green Guide, it may be easy to dive straight into the detailed chapters in the new sixth edition.  Our advice is don’t miss out chapter 1.  The sixth edition isn’t an updated version, with slight amendments here and there; it’s an entirely rewritten guidance document and should be seen as such.  Chapter 1 includes important points:

  • It is an advisory document for use by competent persons. The Green Guide isn’t for everyone.  It’s for use by people who have sufficient training and experience for its implementation.
  • The Guide applies to the safety of all people present at a sports ground, not just spectators. This includes all staff, players, support teams, etc.  The total number of people in a sports ground must be considered in the calculation of the safe capacity.
  • The Guide is not just for football. Previous editions of the Green Guide have been football focused.  However, we have purposely made the Guide relevant to all sports grounds.
  1. Zone Ex isn’t new

When we were consulting on the new additions to the Green Guide, there was concern about the inclusion of details about Zone Ex – the zone outside the stadium where spectators either arrive or leave via.  Our message is simple: Zone Ex isn’t a new idea.  In the London Olympics in 2012, for example, it was referred to as the Last Mile.  While this area may not be the direct responsibility of the stadium owner, it’s important that all parties – stadium owners, local authorities, police, etc – are involved in the effective management of this zone to ensure that spectators are safe during ingress and egress.

  1. You can deviate from the Green Guide

The Green Guide is a guidance document, not a statutory requirement.  We have spent the last two years working with experts to develop the advice it holds.  However, we know that stadia may want to deviate from what we say, and there’s no problem with that subject to being able to demonstrate that any deviation meets at least the same standard or preferably a higher standard.  Our advice is to keep a list of the deviations, which clearly set out what your deviations are, why you chose to deviate, and details of how the deviations are at least as safe as the advice in the Green Guide.  This may seem like an overly bureaucratic way of working.  However, it’s important to have a written record if something does go wrong.

  1. Annexes and worked examples are available online

The Green Guide is supported by annexes and worked examples which are freely available on the SGSA’s website.  These cover P and S factor questions, guidance on colour vision deficiency, demountable stand checklist and medical room checklist.  We also have worked examples of capacity calculations for football, rugby, cricket and horse racing.

  1. Counter terrorism advice isn’t extensively detailed in the guide

The terrorist attacks in the Stade de France in 2015 and Manchester Arena in 2017 had a significant impact on our updates to the Guide.  10 years ago when the fifth edition was published we weren’t facing the types of threats we do today.  You may be expecting specific, detailed advice on counter terrorism.  While the threats have impacted on a lot of our rewrites, we have purposely not included extensive detail.  The simple reason for this is that the challenges we face change on a regular basis and the sixth edition would already be out of date.  Instead, we are advising people to use the information on the National Counter Terrorism Security Office (NaCTSO) website, along with SGSA’s website.

If you haven’t already done so, you can get your copy of the Green Guide at our website.

The evolution of the Green Guide

The Green Guide started off life as a thin A4 pamphlet providing simple advice and guidance for football clubs.  Over time, it has become world-leading definitive guidance on safety at sports.

The tradition has been to rewrite the Green Guide on a roughly 10 year cycle and typically in response to the changing world of safety, service, security and the commercial needs of sport. It can be argued that the fourth and possibly the fifth edition were a little too football centric and stadium-based; a reflection of the fact that they were produced by the Football Licensing Authority with its obvious bias. To redress this, the Sports Grounds Safety Authority has ensured that the new guidance is less stadium-based and can be applied to all sports grounds.

It’s important that each edition of the Green Guide reflects the needs of the industry and has an eye on the future demands of the sector. Before the SGSA began drafting the sixth edition, our first task was to consider both the frequently asked questions for the current version and the suggestions made by a variety of key stakeholders for future version. That gave us some leads as to those subjects that would require additional guidance.

There were several key issues relating was that had arisen since the fifth edition was published in 2008: a step change in security threats, the use of dual-purpose seating in sports grounds, challenging designs and a change towards a risk-based safety management and certification. All of which pointed to the need for a new sixth edition of the Green Guide that would be more suited to the modern world.

The Green Guide is not merely a rework of previous versions nor a tinkering of the text but is a step-change in sports grounds safety that will benefit the sports economy across the world.

Fundamentally, the Green Guide is written to help sports grounds owners and operators to calculate a safe capacity for their venue.  However, it is also used around the world by architects and designers as a best practice guide for the development and refurbishment of new stadiums. As an organisation, we are very proud of the reach of the Green Guide and the positive impact that it has had upon the safety of sports grounds.