Sports stadia with a spectator capacity of more than 10,000 people (5,000 in the case of Premiership or Football League grounds) are designated by the government. They must be certified under the Safety at Sports Grounds Act 1975.

A general safety certificate will cover use of the stadium for certain specified activities. Use for other spectator related purposes will require the issue of a special safety certificate.

Any non-designated sports ground which contains a covered stand with a spectator capacity of more than 500 is deemed a regulated stand. It must be certified under the Fire Safety and Safety at Places of Sport Act 1987.

What counts as a sports ground

The 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

Responsibility for safety

Although the safety certificate is issued by the local authority, responsibility for the safety of spectators at the sports ground rests with the sports ground management at all times. This will normally be the owner or the lessee of the sports ground.

Further information on sports ground safety is available from the Sports Ground Safety Authority (SGSA).

How to apply

If you think you need to apply for a sports ground safety certificate, contact the Licensing Team.

You will need to complete an application form and pay the a fee. The fee is calculated on a case by case basis.

Application evaluation process 

Requirements in relation to sports grounds are far reaching. They will include but will not be restricted to the following:

  • structural integrity of the stand/stadia
  • provisions for means of escape
  • adequate fire precautions
  • emergency services coordination
  • provision of suitable management strategies
    • this includes stewarding, crowd control, match day safety arrangements, evacuation procedures, contingency plans, and similar

The certificate holder is under a legal obligation to comply with all terms and conditions in the certificate. Certificates are issued to last indefinitely or may contain an expiry date.

Under the legislation, we have ongoing control and powers of enforcement. This is to ensure reasonable standards of safety are maintained. The legislation allows for the issue of prohibition notices to prevent spectator access to any sports ground or part when a safety risk is immediate.