The Sports Safety Conference

DfC Sports Branch has policy responsibility for The Safety of Sports Grounds (NI) Order 2006, which introduced a safety certification scheme for larger sports grounds and grounds with permanent spectator stands.


This scheme is administered and enforced by the local district councils. 

In 2017, Sport NI appointed the Sports Grounds Safety Authority (SGSA) to carry out the overseeing role on behalf of the Department. 

As part of its responsibility to the sector, DfC arranges an annual Sports Safety Conference, which offers an opportunity for all those involved in delivering sports events across NI to share knowledge and experiences across the sector and provides an insight into national and international developments.

Sports Safety Conference - 2017-19

The first Sports Safety Conference hosted by the Department was held on 24 March 2017 in Ulster Rugby’s Kingspan Stadium and was attended by  stakeholders across a range of backgrounds including sports grounds owners and operators, sports governing bodies, sports clubs and those from the emergency services who are involved with managing safety at sports events.  This event included local and national speakers and covered topics including ‘The Stewarding Experience’; ‘Managing Safety at Dundrod International Road Race’ and ‘Policing at the UEFA 2016 European Championships’.

The 2018 Sports Safety Conference was held on 23 March in the National Football Stadium, Windsor Park.  Once again local and national speakers delivered presentations on a range of safety topics including ‘Managing Safety and Security at The Open 2017 at Birkdale’; ‘The Sports Grounds Safety Authority review of its safety guidance i.e. the Green Guide’, ‘Cyber Security’ and ‘Crowd Flow Analysis’. 

The 2019 Sports Safety Conference was held at Tyrone GAA Centre of Excellence in Garvaghey. Once again the conference proved to be extremely popular with representatives from central and local Government, Emergency Services, sports Governing bodies and clubs, sports ground owners and operators in attendance.

2019 Sports Safety Conference group of speakers

Industry experts shared their knowledge and experience on a very broad range of subjects including Ken Scott, Chief Inspector of the Sports Grounds Safety Authority, Tom McGuinness, Events & Safety Manager for Croke Park, Jonas Bogaert from The European Stadium and Safety Management Association and Benjamin Steen from Bayern Munich FC.

Sports Safety Virtual Conference - 2022

Sports Safety Conference 2022

Having hosted three Sports Safety Conferences, at Kingspan Stadium, the National Stadium and Tyrone GAA Centre of Excellence at Garvaghey, the Department, supported by Sport NI, recently hosted its fourth conference, “The Sports Safety Virtual Conference” at the SSE Arena.

Following a welcome from the Interim Permanent Secretary, Moira Doherty, the virtual audience heard contributions from a number of speakers who were sharing their experience of managing safety at sports grounds. The Speakers included Ken Scott, Mark Holland and Peter Weymes who work for the Sports Grounds Safety Authority. They covered a range of stadium specific presentations including a look at the pilot on safe standing.  

Lloyd Major MSc, CEO & Co-Founder at Halo Solutions Ltd, was delivering his presentation remotely from the F1 Paddock at the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix, his work location that day. Lloyd provided an insight into the significant challenges facing event organisers following the Manchester Arena bombing. 

The second part of the Conference was a discussion panel involving Paula Bradley from Ulster Rugby, Claire Cosgrave from the SSE Arena; Anita Hamilton from the IFA and Stephen McGeehan from Ulster GAA. The panel, who were on site at the SSE Arena, discussed the challenges their sports had faced during the pandemic, the lessons learnt and how planning for and delivering major sporting events has changed. The Panel shared their experiences of how COVID and safety have been managed in what was an ever changing situation.

The aim of the Conference was to help broaden the knowledge and understanding of those involved in hosting large scale sporting events and as part of this, the virtual audience, who all have a specific interest in safety at sports grounds, had the opportunity to ask questions of all the speakers - an important part of the conference engagement.

Finally George Lucas, the Chair of Sport NI, closed the conference by thanking all the speakers, the virtual audience and the technical production team for contributing to what was an extremely informative safety conference. The Conference content can viewed online.

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