Farewell from the outgoing Chairman

Outgoing SGSA Chairman Paul Darling QC

As I write, this is my last day as Chairman of the Sports Grounds Safety Authority (SGSA). I depart with great optimism for the Organisation’s future. The Authority has endured a torrid time over the last few years – having been under threat of abolition for at least the last four years. Despite that, we have made great strides. Some of those strides are easy to highlight.  First, the transition from the Football Licensing Authority (FLA) into the SGSA.  Second, the use of the flexibility that allowed us to extend our work to other sports both domestically and internationally. Others are less dramatic but no less important - for example the carrying on of doing the job day in, day out.

Ruth Shaw has been an outstanding Chief Executive. The Headquarters Team and the Inspectorate have all performed magnificently. The Board has provided wise counsel, strategic direction and non-executive scrutiny. I salute them all and give them my thanks. 

For me, the culmination of my 6 years was the truly remarkable conference brilliantly organised by Caroline Hale at the Oval on Monday, 17th March. This was the SGSA at its absolute best. 

In my closing address at the conference, I identified what seemed to me to be the three marks of the SGSA. I hope that I will be forgiven for repeating them.

First, expertise. The SGSA possesses remarkable expertise.The breadth and depth of the understanding of the team of the issues of stadia design, safety management knows no bounds.  We are, without doubt, the world leaders.

Second, commitment. Everyone at the SGSA whether they be at Headquarters, the Inspectorate or the Board share a passionate commitment for spectators wellbeing across the world. What they do matters to them passionately. 

Third, collaboration. The team collaborates with the rest of the organisation. It encourages collaboration with all stakeholders. 

The combination of those three characteristics is a world-class organisation that does a fantastic job.

So, I say farewell and thank you. I welcome my successor, Alan Coppin, who I am sure will be an outstanding Chairman of the SGSA. I wish him and all of you the very best.

Paul Darling QC

31 March 2015