Chair - Sports Grounds Safety Authority

Body: Sports Grounds Safety Authority
Appointing Department: Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Sectors: Culture, Media & Sport, Regulation
Location: Meetings usually take place in London and on occasion in other locations in the UK.
Skills required: Business / Commercial, Regulation
Number of Vacancies: 1
Remuneration: The Chair’s remuneration will be £36,260 per annum. The role is not pensionable. Expenses will be paid.
Time Requirements: The Board meets up to six times a year, including a two-day meeting with overnight stay. Some travel is required to attend meetings and events across the UK. The Chair also represents the organisation at events and with senior stakeholders, particularly football governing bodies and football clubs, and the Chair is expected to commit the necessary time to foster these relationships at a strategic level. The time commitment can be up to two days a week or 96 days a year.


An announcement has been made on the outcome of this appointment.

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Campaign Timeline

  • Competition Launched


  • Closed for Applications

    15/12/2020 at 12:00

  • Panel Sift

    w/c 11th January

  • Final Interview Date

    w/c 1st February

  • Announcement

    11/03/2021 at 12:00


Assessment Panel

Vacancy Description

The Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport is seeking to appoint an outstanding individual to succeed Alan Coppin as Chair of the Sports Grounds Safety Authority when he steps down in March 2021 after serving two terms of office. Applications are welcomed from underrepresented groups to ensure the Sports Grounds Safety Authority reflects the diverse society it serves. 


About the Sports Grounds Safety Authority

The Sports Grounds Safety Authority (SGSA) was established by statute as an Arms Length Public Body in 2011 taking on the full responsibilities of its predecessor body, The Football Licensing Authority.  The SGSA is the safety regulator for football grounds in England and Wales and the UK Government’s independent advisor on sports grounds safety.  

The three core functions of the SGSA are:

  1. To issues licences to league and international football grounds in England and Wales to allow them to permit spectators to watch matches and to oversee local authorities in their duties to sports grounds safety and safety certification
  2. Provide strategic support for sports grounds, governing bodies and others, both in the UK and internationally
  3. Set and raise standards globally through developing guidance, particularly the Guide to Safety at Sports Grounds (Green Guide)

The SGSA is funded by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport with an annual budget of £2.1m (2019/20) which includes £1.6m of grant in aid and employs 20 staff, of which 13 are regionally based inspectors, led by its CEO Martyn Henderson. 

The Board of the SGSA comprises a Chair and 7 Board members appointed by the Secretary of State.  

The SGSA enforces the Government’s All Seater Policy introduced in 1994 for the top two tiers of the Football League which was introduced as a result of the inquiry led by Lord Justice Taylor following the Hillsborough tragedy. In 2018 the Government commissioned an external analysis of the evidence relating to the all seater policy and in late 2019 the Conservative Party made a commitment in its General Election manifesto to introduce safe standing.  The SGSA will lead on the implementation of this historic change working closely with DCMS officials, football bodies and fans.     

Strategic Goals

SGSA’s core purpose is to ensure that everyone can enjoy sport safely and it aims to improve the safety of the sports sector, both domestically and internationally.  The SGSA has developed a reputation as the leading expert on stadia safety and, in addition to its work as an effective regulator of football stadia in England and Wales, is now working with a wide range of sports across the globe.   Operating on a foundation of excellence, independence, integrity and partnership the SGSA’s aims for the 2020-25 strategic plan period are:

  1. Continuously improve its performance as the safety regulator for football grounds in England and Wales. The first priority will be to fulfil its regulatory remit, as set by the UK’s Parliament. Advances in stadium technology, resourcing challenges across safety partners, the governance within the domestic game, and the threat from terrorism mean that the SGSA’s role is more important than ever. To deliver this the SGSA will 
    1. Develop and maintain a robust evidence base
    2. Make targeted and risk-based use of its statutory powers
    3. Identify and promote good practice, including through dissemination of world-leading guidance.
    4. Improve the training and qualifications available to the sector
  2. Raise the profile and status of sports grounds safety in the UK and internationally.  As a national regulator the SGSA encourages and facilitates collaboration and cooperation between governing bodies, clubs, local authorities, emergency services and fans.  The SGSA delivers long term safety campaigns and champions the work of the sports grounds safety sector.
  3. Become the strategic safety partner of choice for governments, sports governing bodies and the organisers of major events.  The SGSA is in a unique position to operate across many disciplines to ensure safety is considered at a strategic level. Maximising value to the UK taxpayer and to sports fans around the world, the SGSA will have a new focus on major events where it can benefit the greatest number of people. Working across the globe, particulary in countries where the spectator safety record is poor, the SGSA is setting and driving up standards internationally working alongside the UK Government in its operations overseas. 
  4. Improve efficiency and performance as a non departmental public body. The SGSA is a small organisation and therefore must be lean and efficient in its operations to both discharge is statutory duties and meet the growing demand for services. The Government’s commitment to introduce safe standing will call upon the full expertise and engagement of the SGSA over the coming year. 

The SGSA’s priorities for 2020 are:

  • Prepare for potential changes to the Government’s all-seater policy at football grounds in England and Wales. 
  • Update Safety Management guidance. 
  • Strengthen engagement with fans.
  • Work with partners to raise the profile of safety issues 
  • Develop a stronger safety culture in African football by working with FIFA and CAF
  •  Support the safe growth of women’s football in partnership with the FA
  •  Consider options for change to the licence fee for recommendation to Ministers

The SGSA is embarking upon an exciting and challenging period both at home and abroad and the Secretary of State is seeking an experienced, dynamic and commercially aware Chair to lead the Board and the organisation, working effectively with the CEO, to deliver on this ambitious strategy. We welcome candidates from diverse backgrounds who can apply their experiences to this demanding role

Role of the Chair

The Chair will provide strategic leadership and direction to the SGSA in fulfilling its functions as a public body within the resources allocated to it. The Chair is responsible for building and maintaining a strong and healthy relationship with the DCMS, football and sports bodies, other relevant regulators and key stakeholders in the wider sporting sector.  On occasion, the Chair may be asked to act as the spokesperson for the SGSA, such as when issues attract media interest or giving evidence as part of relevant consultations/enquiries/Parliamentary Committee hearings. The Chair has specific responsibilities in relation to the following:

  • Advising on the SGSA’s long term strategy and engaging the SGSA Board in co-creating and shaping the strategy in partnership with the Chief Executive and their staff
  • Managing the conduct of the SGSA’s business, guiding the Board in their decision making ensuring compliance with all relevant legislation and congruence with Government policy as it relates to safety and security at sports grounds
  • Encouraging high standards of propriety across the organisation and behaviours that accord with the seven principles of public life
  • Representing the SGSA in meetings with Ministers, football authorities and clubs, other sports authorities and key stakeholders at the highest level
  • Ensure that Board members fulfil their duties and responsibilities for the effective governance of SGSA by leading the periodic evaluation of Board effectiveness and individual Board member appraisals
  • Lead the appointment and appraisal of the Chief Executive, providing support, advice, and challenge and hold the Chief Executive to account for the overall performance of the SGSA

Person Specification

All candidates will need to demonstrate in their application that they meet the majority of following essential criteria to a high standard:

  • Extensive experience in non executive roles, preferably some of that experience gained in a public sector body and/or regulatory bodies, and with a demonstrable understanding of the specific responsibilities of the role of a board Chair
  • The ability to provide strong leadership at a senior level and set strategic direction in a challenging and complex environment coupled with an ability to chair a group with diverse skills and experience to reach a well–founded, evidenced consensus
  • An understanding of and commitment to the objectives of the SGSA, of the principles of spectator safety and security such as robust risk management, multi-agency working, inclusivity and access 
  • An understanding of the governance structures in sport and the dynamics of the various membership, enforcing, licensing and corporate ownership bodies across sport with particular knowledge within football, cricket and rugby 
  • Commercial knowledge and experience, preferably gained in an international environment
  • Excellent communication and networking skills, with the ability to engage with individuals and organisations across the sporting world as an ambassador of the SGSA, while also being able to command respect and challenge others

Additional Information

The appointment is for up to 4 years.  Re-appointment for a second term may be made, at the discretion of the Secretary of State for the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

Disability Confident

We guarantee to interview anyone with a disability whose application meets the minimum criteria for the role. By ‘minimum criteria’ we mean that you must provide evidence in your application which demonstrates that you meet the level of competence required under each of the essential criteria.

If you wish to apply under this scheme, please state this in the covering email or letter when submitting your application.

Reasonable adjustments

If you would like a confidential discussion regarding any reasonable adjustments during the process, please also indicate this in the covering email or letter.

If you are not completely satisfied

We aim to process all applications as quickly as possible and to treat all applicants with courtesy. If you have any complaints about the way your application has been handled, please contact

Supporting information

This process is regulated by the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments’ (OCPA‘s) Code of Practice. All applicants are expected to have adhered to the Seven Principles of Public Life.

Eligibility Criteria 

You cannot be considered for a public appointment if:

  • you become bankrupt or make an arrangement with a creditor
  • your estate has been sequestrated in Scotland or you enter into a debt arrangement programme under Part 1 of the Debt Arrangement and Attachment (Scotland) Act 2002 (asp 17) as the debtor or have, under Scots law, granted a trust deed for creditors;
  • you are disqualified from acting as a company director under the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986;
  • you have been convicted of a criminal offence, the conviction not being spent for the purposes of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (c. 53);
  • you become subject to a debt relief order or a bankruptcy restrictions order;
  • you fail to declare any conflict of interest.

Conflicts of Interest and Due Diligence

If you have any interests that might be relevant to the work of the Sports Grounds Safety Authority, and which could lead to a real or perceived conflict of interest if you were to be appointed, please provide details in your application. If you have queries about this and would like to discuss further please contact the Public Appointments Team.

Given the nature of public appointments, it is important that those appointed as members of public bodies maintain the confidence of Parliament and the public. If there are any issues in your personal or professional history that could, if you were appointed, be misconstrued, cause embarrassment, or cause public confidence in the appointment to be jeopardised, it is important that you bring them to the attention of the Advisory Assessment Panel and provide details of the issue(s) in the statement supporting your application. In considering whether you wish to declare any issues, you should also reflect on any public statements you have made, including through social media.

As part of our due diligence checks we will consider anything in the public domain related to your conduct or professional capacity. This will include us undertaking searches of previous public statements and social media, blogs or any other publicly available information. This information may be made available to the Advisory Assessment Panel and they may wish to explore issues with you should you be invited to interview. The information may also be shared with ministers and the Cabinet Office.

How to Apply

To apply, please send:

  • a CV of not more than two sides of A4
  • a supporting statement of not more than three sides of A4, providing examples and setting out how you meet the criteria
  • the Diversity Monitoring Form concerning your personal information and political activity, and
  • the Declaration of Interests Form.

Completed applications should be emailed to:

Please put ‘SGSA Chair’ in the Subject line.

If you have any questions about the appointments process, please email:

Code of Conduct for Board Members of Public Bodies
Declaration of Conflicts of Interest Form
Diversity Monitoring Form
OCPA Complaints Procedure
Public Appointments Privacy Notice 2020
SGSA - Chair Specification
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