Video: SGSA chief executive warns over complacency in sports stadium safety

Sports Grounds Safety Authority’s (SGSA) chief executive Karen Eyre-White says stadium operators cannot afford to be complacent about safety despite it being almost 30 years ago since the Hillsborough Disaster.

In a TheStadiumBusiness Insights video interview, Eyre-White explains how The Green Guide, the SGSA’s advisory guide to safety at sports grounds, is continuously updated to reflect changes within the sector.

“We’ve seen huge improvements in venue safety over the past three decades since the Hillsborough Disaster,” Eyre-White said.

“The Green Guide has had several different additions and what we aim to do is to make sure we are responding to changes within the sector and giving advice and guidance that supports sports grounds for keeping people safe.”

In the updated Green Guide, Eyre-White said some of the themes are based around advancements in technology, smart stadia, crowd modelling and some of the risks around terrorism and security. She also said that it looks at some of the external factors around a venue and how those need to be managed in an integrated way.

Eyre-White also touched on the importance of due diligence when it comes to looking at the safety standards with the controversial safe-standing debate.

The SGSA recently granted League One football club Shrewsbury Town with the permission to become the first English side to introduce safe standing at its Greenhouse Meadow home ground. 

Eyre-White said: “There are increased challenges with standing when you get into very big stadia and high profile matches. There are challenges around movements of crowds that you don’t get in the seated deck.”

With widespread fears over terrorism following a series of attacks in the UK in recent months, Eyre-White said it is “absolutely critical” that stadium management teams understand the risks and put in place plans to cope. They should also work with police and counter-terrorism experts and prepare contingency plans.

Major venues across the UK have already begun to enhance security measures following the terrorist attack on Manchester Arena that killed 22 people and injured many others following an Ariana Grande concert in May.

Eyre-White was part of an independent panel of industry figures that judged hundreds of nominations for the 2017 TheStadiumBusiness Awards at Croke Park in Dublin.