Safety at sports grounds and temporary raised structures

The provisions of the Safety of Sports Grounds Act 1975 sits with us. The Fire Safety and Safety of Places of Sports Act 1987 makes it our duty to enforce the Acts.

Legislation requirements for safety at sports grounds

Safety at sports grounds evaluations are assessed via various legislation requirements:

Requirements in relation to sports grounds include:

  • structural integrity of the stand/stadia
  • provisions for means of escape
  • adequate fire precautions
  • emergency services co-ordination
  • provision of suitable management strategies (stewarding, crowd control, match day safety arrangements, evacuation procedures, contingency plans etc.)

Safety of Sports Grounds Act 1975

The responsible person for the ground is required to apply to the appropriate Authority for a General Safety Certificate or Special Safety Certificate.

General safety certificate

When an application is received, we must determine whether the applicant is the qualified/responsible person and if so must issue a general safety certificate. The general safety certificate may contain any conditions that we consider necessary or expedient to secure reasonable safety, like management requirements, First Aid provisions, strength of structural elements etc. In general these conditions will follow the guidance given in the guide to safety at sports grounds.

To prepare a safety certificate it is necessary to:

  • request suitable drawings from the applicant
  • survey the ground in detail
  • hold Safety Team Meetings with the Emergency Services to determine overall requirements
  • consult with other expert/other interested bodies
  • seek structural, electrical, mechanical and any other pertinent certification
  • consult with ground management
  • determine works conditions and numbers of spectators to be permitted into the ground

On the issue of the general safety certificate it is necessary to notify interested persons and advertise in accordance with the appropriate regulations. After the issue of the general safety certificate inspections will be made from time to time for example:

  • during performances
  • on match days
  • during other sporting occasions

to ensure that the terms and conditions of the certificate are suitable and appropriate and to monitor the clubs' observance of the terms and conditions. An annual inspection (and subsequent follow up inspections) of the ground is also required by statute (Section 10B).

Special safety certificate

Special safety certificates are issued for activities which are not included in the general safety certificate. The process is similar to that for general safety certificates.


If we decide not to issue a safety certificate then the applicant may appeal against the judgment. This appeal is made to the Scottish Government. Before determining an appeal the Scottish Government give each interested party an opportunity of appearing before and being heard by a person appointed by the Scottish Government.

Interested parties include:

  • the holder of a safety certificate
  • any other person who is or may be concerned with the terms and conditions of a safety certificate
  • the chief officer of police
  • the building authority

The Scottish Government may appoint someone to hold an inquiry in relation to an appeal, and report back. On determining the appeal, the Scottish Government may set out necessary requirements and we must carry out the Government's requirements. Government may prescribe the procedure for appeals, including a time limit, and detail the manner in which an appeal is to be determined.

Please note the Scottish Government's decision is final.

Fire Safety and Safety of Places of Sport Act 1987

This Act applies to a sports ground, which provides covered accommodation in stands for spectators.

  • stand in relation to a sports ground, means an artificial structure (not merely temporary) which provides accommodation for spectators and is wholly or partly covered by a roof, and in relation to the number of spectators in a stand provided with covered accommodation
  • covered means covered by a roof or other part of the structure, which constitutes the stand
  • a certificate is required (a general safety certificate) in respect of the use at a sports ground of each stand which provides covered accommodation for 500 or more spectators
  • an annual inspection is made to any ground providing the above accommodation by a team consisting of Building Control, Police, Fire and Rescue Service, Ambulance Service and Emergency Planning. Safety of spectators is paramount and the safety certificate will only be issued when the inspection team are satisfied that there are no risks


Should we refuse to issue a certificate or have the ground closed due to safety infringements there is a right of appeal. An interested party may appeal to the Sheriff Court against our decision.
Interested party includes:

  • the holder of a safety certificate
  • any other person who is or may be concerned in ensuring compliance with the terms and conditions of a safety certificate
  • the chief officer of police
  • the building authority

An appeal to the court must be by summary application. An appeal against a determination can only be made in the 28 day period after the date of the determination. Any other appeal must be made within 28 days (for a general safety certificate) or within seven days (for a special safety certificate) after the relevant notification date.

Temporary raised structures

The Civic (Scotland) Government Act 1982 section 89 relates to raised structures (a stand or platform, staging and other similar structures 600 mm or more in height).
Approval will be given for the use of a raised structure if, after assessment, we are satisfied that it:

  • has been safely constructed and secured,
  • has sufficient means of entrance and exit including means of escape in case of fire or other emergency in relation to the circumstances in which it is to be used but not otherwise.

Further details and guidance can be found on our application form and from our guidance for event organisers, follow the link below.

Ground Capacity Assessment - The Scottish Football Association

Football Clubs playing in the Scottish Football Association leagues may be asked to validate their football ground spectator capacity.

We are able to provide clubs with a ground capacity assessment.

This assessment is based on plans, management statements and details provided by the club and includes an inspection by us, of the ground, stands and terracing. The ground capacity will be calculated under the Guide to Safety at Sports Grounds fifth Edition 2008.

Any club wishing to use this service should contact us for further details and fee.

Download the temporary raised structure form and guidance Building standards surveyor areas

Building standards

Address: Council Headquarters
Newtown St. Boswells

Telephone: 0300 100 1800