Sports bodies must act in compliance with the statutory framework covering safety at sports grounds. This statutory framework has itself been influenced by a number of serious safety lapses at sports grounds and by the findings of the subsequent inquiries, such as the Taylor Inquiry into deaths of 96 spectators at the Hillsborough stadium in Sheffield in 1989. These inquiries have influenced the statutory standards regulating safety at sports grounds.
In addition to actions brought under tort, organisers of sporting events have been statutorily liable for injuries caused to spectators or participants since the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1957 which imposes a duty of care on the organisers / clubs to ensure the safety of lawful visitors and the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1984 which provides limited protection for trespassers. In addition, the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 imposes a duty on the event organiser for protecting the health, safety and welfare of everyone working at, or attending, the event.
The Safety of Sports Grounds Act 1975 provides for licensing of sports grounds and, following the Bradford City stadium disaster in 1985, the Fire Safety and Safety of Places of Sport Act 1987 was passed which provides for a system of safety certification by local authorities for certain covered stands at sports grounds.
The Football Spectators Act 1989 (s8) established the Football Licensing Authority (now Sports Ground Safety Authority) which is required to operate a licensing scheme to regulate the spectator viewing accommodation at Premier and Football League Grounds plus Wembley and the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. The Sports Ground Safety Authority is also required to keep under review how local authorities discharge their functions under the Safety of Sports Grounds Act 1975 at those grounds.