Safety for open air events, sports grounds and stands

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The legislation

There are two main pieces of legislation for sports grounds/stadiums and sporting events:

Designated grounds

The Safety at Sports Grounds Act 1975 requires a General Safety Certificate for grounds/stadiums that have a capacity of 10,000 or more spectators (5,000 if in the Premier League or Football League). These are known as 'designated' grounds.

Regulated stands

The Fire Safety and Safety of Places of Sport Act 1987 requires a General Safety Certificate for covered stands, known as 'regulated stands', with a capacity of 500 or more spectators.

The Green Guide

The Sports Grounds Safety Authority has released a publication known as the Green Guide that gives specific details on how to comply.

It provides design guidance for areas such as

  • Barrier design
  • Means of escape
  • Gangway sizes
  • Access and egress for disabled people
  • Crowd control and dispersal
  • Structural stability and stewarding

Meetings and Safety Advisory Groups (SAG)

Regular meetings and Safety Advisory Groups (SAG) are held between the sports ground/event management team and relevant stakeholders, which can include but is not limited to:

  • Fire and Rescue Service
  • Police
  • Ambulance
  • Emergency planning
  • Local Authority Environmental Health
  • Local Authority Licensing

Special Safety Certificate

To hold an event at a designated sports ground/stadium, or use a regulated stand for activities in addition to those listed in the General Safety Certificate, an application for a Special Safety Certificate may be required.

The event can be a 'one off' event or a series of events such as:

  • The playing of music or singing, or pop concert
  • Any firework, pyrotechnic, special effects, or similar display
  • Carnival, circus, fair, fun day, or similar open day event
  • Any events involving the display or exhibition of vehicles or animals
  • Any other sporting event, apart from the specified activities, involving track or field, athletics, ball games, physical prowess, or competitions of any description
  • Any other use in addition to a specified activity which may require prior approval.

It is the responsibility of the sports ground/event management team to ensure spectator safety is not placed at risk through defective event infrastructure or poor management procedures.

Processes are tested by running table top exercises, onsite exercises and by relevant stakeholders attending during performance (DP) inspections.

Findings and learning outcomes are reported back to the sports ground/event management team by members of the SAG to continually drive improvements.

Apply for a General Safety Certificate

Apply for a General Safety Certificate (GOV.UK)

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