Experts share knowledge on sports safety, security and sustainability at Belfast conference

Date published: 13 October 2023


Sports safety, security and sustainability experts from Everton Football Club, FIFA and UCI Glasgow 2023 were just some of the keynote speakers at a special conference which took place in Belfast today.

Pictured at today’s Sports Safety Conference at W5

The event, hosted by Department for Communities at the W5 Lecture Theatre in the SSE Arena, provided a valuable opportunity for those in the sports sector and beyond to hear from specialists on a broad range of safety topics.

Key subjects addressed at the conference included stewarding, the health and safety risks associated with pyrotechnics in a sporting arena, stadium security and sustainability.

A panel discussion, chaired by BBC Sport NI broadcaster and conference MC Thomas Niblock, was also held on Martyn’s Law, the groundbreaking legislation introduced in the wake of the Manchester Arena attack in 2017 and currently reshaping safety standards at sports venues and events.

Department for Communities Deputy Secretary Emer Morelli, who opened the conference, said: “Ensuring the highest standards of safety at all our sporting events, both domestic and international, is of paramount importance and remains a key objective and message moving forward.

“It was also extremely instructive to have the topic of sustainability platformed and discussed at this year’s conference by an exceptional line-up of speakers and experts who provided timely insights into a subject of increasing significance and importance in the sporting environment.

“Over an extended period of time, Northern Ireland has earned a glowing reputation for hosting successful sporting events, but it is important we continue to grow our knowledge of these key issues and learn from what is happening in other sports, other sectors and elsewhere around the world.”

Almost 140 delegates attended the conference and heard from an international panel of experts, including: -

  • Nige Bennett, Stewarding Manager at English Premier League club Everton, who provided valuable insight into stewarding at Everton’s Goodison Park home and the club’s forthcoming move to its new Bramley Moore Dock stadium.
  • Katharina Steinberg, Senior Safety and Security Manager at FIFA, who provided an overview of safety planning for major football tournaments.
  • Trudy Lindblade, CEO of the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships in Glasgow, who provided insight into running a blue riband event and measures taken to make the recent championships in Scotland as sustainable as possible.
  • Ken Scott MBE, Head of Inspectorate at the Sports Ground Safety Authority (SGSA), who discussed the current issues impacting safety at sports stadia and the implications of Martyn’s Law.

Notes to editors: 

  1. Image Caption: Pictured at today’s Sports Safety Conference at W5 are, from left: Thomas Niblock (Conference MC), Stuart Purcell (Security and Safety Manager at The Odyssey Trust, Belfast), Nige Bennett (Everton FC Stewarding Manager), Trudy Lindblade (CEO of the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships in Glasgow), Stewart Gibson (Space and Place), Emer Morelli (DfC Deputy Secretary) and Ken Scott (SGSA Head of Inspectorate)
  2. Other speakers at today’s Sports Safety Conference, which was closed by Richard Archibald, Interim CEO at Sport NI, included Brian McNeill, who provided a session on pyrotechnics safety; Stewart Gibson, a senior associate with Space and Place, who updated conference on renewable technologies; Jane Corderoy, (DAERA), who provided an overview of Northern Ireland’s path to Net Zero by 2050; and Stuart Purcell, Security and Safety Manager at The Odyssey Trust, Belfast, who addressed Martyn’s Law as part of the panel discussion.
  3. This is the fifth Sports Safety Conference hosted by the Department for Communities and supported by Sport NI. Previous conferences were held at the Kingspan Stadium (2017), National Stadium at Windsor Park (2018), Tyrone GAA Centre of Excellence (2019) and last year at the SSE Arena when the event was broadcast live to a remote audience.
  4. At this year’s conference, it was decided to broaden the scope of the event to include the theme of Sustainability in Sport, with speakers sharing their experiences of meeting the challenges of achieving greater levels of sustainability for their club or organisation.
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