Blog: Safety comes first for city’s new era of football stadia

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The football season might be over but with pop superstars Taylor Swift and P!nk set to take centre stage at Anfield, away from the pitch the work hasn’t stopped for one team, writes Phil Smith, Head of Building Control at Liverpool City Council.

The improvements and developments at both Anfield and Bramley Moore Dock have grabbed a lot of attention. And rightly so, considering several hundred million pounds is being invested to provide the city with two world-class venues.

For my team of Building Control officers, who are used to being busy, it’s meant the last twelve months have been an exceptionally frenetic time, with the construction of a major extension to Liverpool FC’s iconic stadium and Everton’s new home on the Mersey waterfront to oversee.

As well as those two huge projects, we’ve also been carrying out performance inspections at the two clubs throughout the season, as well as annual inspections, and we’ve been undertaking assessments of Event Management Plans for the forthcoming concerts at Anfield.

And with Taylor Swift set to perform in the city this week, we’ve been at fever pitch to ensure all is in hand to ensure fans enjoy their favourite pop star in complete safety.

The good news is, we’ve just granted a special safety certificate to legally confirm Anfield is compliant with all conditions necessary for staging a live music event there.

We’ll also done this for the P!nk concerts too.

I’d like to thank Liverpool Football Club for all of their cooperation, not just in the run up to these concerts, but throughout this past year. The loss and subsequent appointment of a new contractor presented some significant challenges to everyone regarding stadium compliance, and the teamwork involved with all has been exemplary.

A lot of communication and engagement has been going on behind the scenes with all of the key stakeholders to enable Anfield to incrementally open and for the club to use the extended Grandstand. The ground currently has an interim Ground Safety Certificate and hopefully by September when finished to its full occupancy, it will have a full one, alongside a Building Regulation completion certificate.

Once complete, the stunning Anfield will have a capacity over 60,000. And just as crucial, the city has a venue to sing from the rooftops about.

But fortunately, we won’t just have one. Like our cathedrals, we’ll have two beacons for football (and music) fans to admire and enjoy.

At Everton’s new stadium, we’ve been working closely with the Club’s appointed contractors to ensure compliance with building regulations is achieved. Parallel with that, we have been engaging with the club and key stakeholders in their development of their operations plans which will underpin the conditions on the General Safety Certificate when it is ready to be issued.

Completion is due prior to the end of 2024 and Everton have already confirmed they plan to play their first competitive fixture at their new home at the start of the 2025/26 season.

We are also waiting for the Department of Media, Culture and Sport to designate the new ground, and that decision is due very soon.

The stadium is already adding to the city’s stunning riverside skyline and as we know, it’s set to host matches for the 2028 European Football Championships.

It’s going to be an emotional season ahead for the blue half of the city as Everton prepares to host its final season at Goodison Park.

Before the start of season 24/25 both grounds will get an annual inspection undertaken by the BC team. This looks at the operation plans, stadium structure and fire safety procedures/processes. A successful annual inspection allows my department, via the Council’s Ground Safety Advisory Group, to issue next season’s Ground Safety Certificate.

And then when the season is up and running, we’ll be planning our six inspections at both Goodison and Anfield looking at each club’s operation plans to ensure spectator safety is delivered. This inspection regime also includes one with the Counter Terrorism Police in the space outside of the ground known as Zone Ex.

And for Everton Stadium, there’s also the added prospect of test events at the start of 2025!

So there’s no real off-season for us. Which takes me to finally thank my team for all of their hard work.

They’ve been externally audited by Central Government’s Sports Ground Safety Authority on their processes, policies and inspection regime for delivering sports ground safety.

And the great news is we achieved a 100% score! Furthermore we are now used by the SGSA as an exemplar for other local authority teams to follow. No trophy! But still, I hope it gives everyone comfort that there’s a very high-preforming team working behind the scenes, to ensure fans can have fun at our stadia, safely.

Here’s to next week’s concerts going smoothly and whether you are blue or red, enjoy the football season when it kicks off again in August.

Liverpool Waterfront