Chief Executive’s 2015 Christmas message

SGSA Chief Executive - Karen Eyre-White

I’d like to start this Christmas message by thanking everyone in the SGSA and our external partners for the warm welcome I have received in my first five months in post. The time has flown by and I’ve enjoyed the huge variety of my visits across the country; from Burnley to Ascot, Sunderland to Gloucester, I have met enthusiastic professionals from all sports who are committed to ensuring the safety of all spectators. I have been impressed with both their dedication and professionalism, and the spirit of collaboration to ensure spectators have a safe and enjoyable experience at sports grounds.

In November the Government announced the outcome of its Spending Review which sets out funding for all government bodies for the next five years. The SGSA’s settlement is very positive and will see us continuing both our important statutory role in football and providing advice to other sports in England and Wales and internationally. The Government has recognised the importance of the organisation and value of our guidance and we have secured funding to enable us to commence consultation on the 6th edition of the Green Guide. The re-write will allow us to update the current version to reflect the latest research and technical developments since 2008. 

As well as maintaining our statutory focus, we will be reducing our burden on the taxpayer by doing things differently and taking opportunities to generate income from our advisory work. This new more commercial focus will be set out in a new strategy which we will publish early next year.  Our vision is to be the world’s leading authority on sports ground safety and we will continue to promote the importance of sharing good practice and working together for the benefit of all spectators.

We will host the second Safer Together conference in the Spring of 2016 and look forward to bringing even more stakeholders together for a valuable day of sharing ideas and learning from each other. Dates for the conference will be published shortly, please register your interest in attending by emailing us.

The recent events in Paris remind us all of the importance of our work to keep spectators safe and the new and emerging issues we face. We have been working closely with security partners including the National Counter Terrorism Security Office to share guidance and advice to all our stakeholders. Whilst we can never eliminate the risk, we can work together to ensure our plans are as robust as possible and we will continue to inform you of any developments. 

The ongoing Hillsborough Inquests have given us a chance to reflect on the changes that have been made for the benefit of spectators since the tragic event in 1989. Thankfully much has changed in the last 25 years, both in the quality of the facilities and the safety management practices. The Inquests are due to conclude in February 2016 and we will report on any recommendations that impact on spectator safety.

Finally, we say goodbye in January to SGSA board member Brendon Batson, who has served the organisation for 8 years and played a significant part in the successful transition from the FLA to the SGSA. He will be missed by everyone at the SGSA and I would like to thank him for his outstanding contribution.

On behalf of the SGSA, I wish you and your families a very happy Christmas and a safe and prosperous 2016.