An Explosive Day at the Oval
The first ever Sports Grounds Safety Authority national conference went off with a bang and concluded that taking a partnership approach is the best way to ensure spectators have a safe and enjoyable experience at sports grounds.
Over 140 professionals responsible for spectator safety at sports grounds came together on 17 March at the Kia Oval to share good practice and discuss the importance of taking a multi-agency approach to spectator safety. Representatives from clubs, sport, local government, industry and fans shared their experiences of working together for the benefit of spectators.
The conference opened with a panel representing England 2015, Newham Council, Cardiff City FC, Wembley Stadium and Football Supporters Europe who shared their experiences, challenges and successes of taking a partnership approach to safety.
A series of breakout sessions provided an opportunity for delegates to discuss topics in more depth and included a case study from the England and Wales Cricket Board, a Safety Officer panel discussion with Safety Officers from Rugby League and Union, Football and Cricket. The popular session on crowd behaviour provided a unique insight into the motivation of individuals and how that impacts on a crowd.
The lunch time pyrotechnic and display was one of the highlights of the day and gave attendees a chance to see, hear and feel the impact of explosions, flares and smoke bombs in a ground.
The day ended with a unanimous call for sports grounds to be welcoming and accessible for all spectators. The Chair of Level Playing Field, Joyce Cook talked about the financial benefits of making stadiums accessible and said “don’t underestimate the value of the purple pound, if a disabled supporter can’t access the ground they, their family and friends will not come either”.
Chief Executive of the SGSA Ruth Shaw, summed up the feelings of the day by saying “The Safer Together conference has reminded me of why we all do what we do, we all want the same thing, a safe, secure and enjoyable experience for all spectators”.