Major sports facility disasters such as the Hillsborough Stadium, the Heysel Stadium and terror activities and threats such as the one witnessed during the Munich Olympic Games in 1972 involving the Black September have created the need to ensure heightened safety and security in major sports and recreation facilities globally and England in particular. Sports facilities operations management has therefore become an important area of study and interest among scholars. According to Schwarz, Hall and Shibli (2010), facility management is refers to the care and maintenance of non-profit and commercial buildings such as sports facilities and this involves heating, ventilation and air conditioning, plumbing, electrical, lighting and sound systems, housekeeping, cleaning, security and facility management general operations (p.3). According to them, the goal of facility management is “to organize and supervise the safe and secure maintenance and operation of the facility in a financially and environmentally sound manner” (Schwarz, Hall & Shibli 2010, p.3). On the other hand, facility operation involves the administration of the various processes in order to produce or distribute the goods or services that are being provided at the facility. These processes may include inventory control, purchasing, staffing, supply chain management and logistics. All these are aimed at the maintenance, control and improvement of the organizational activities. This paper looks at the legal perspectives of a sport facility operations management with references to the Wembley Football Stadium in England.
Relevant Legislation, legal and Best Practice Procedures to Health and Safety in Sports Facility Operation
The most relevant piece of legislation on the safety, health and security of sports facilities is the Sports Grounds Safety Authority Act 2011 Part 1 of which creates Sports Grounds Safety Authority. This authority has come up with a Green Guide to Safety at Sports Grounds. There is also the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 that is aimed at ensuring that sport facilities have appropriate fire and related risks response systems in place in cases of emergency. The Green Guide provides for among other things the calculation of the safe capacity of sports grounds, management responsibility and safety planning, facility structure installation, risk management, emergency evacuation measures, spectator accommodation, communication, fire safety, medical and first aid measures and alternative sports facility use.
In the UK, for instance, there are the Adventure Activities Licensing Regulations of 1996 and the Activity Center (Young Persons) Act of 1995. According to Liu, Taylor and Shibli (2007), sports facility legislation should clearly define what a sports facility is, the scope of operations and management expected and the operating hours of the facility. Further, such a legal framework should identify the operational and transport management plans, lighting in the facility, any building and construction works and how these are to be carried out and reduction in the level of noise. The comfort, security and safety of all users of the facility including fans, stakeholders, players and employees must be given priority in such a legislation and severe penalties imposed on those who fallout these rules and regulations. Under the transport management plan, the piece of legislation should include communication strategies, emergency services, exit plans, traffic and pedestrian controls, car park schemes, ticketing procedures, access, parking and loading of vehicles and access for people with disability into the facility (McMahon-Beattie & Yeoman 2004). The Green Guide provides for among other things the calculation of the safe capacity of sports grounds, management responsibility and safety planning, facility structure installation, risk management, emergency evacuation measures, spectator accommodation, communication, fire safety, medical and first aid measures and alternative sports facility use.
Moreover, under an operational management plan, a sports legislation according to Ward (2012) should ensure establish procedures to ensure that operators of such facilities have operational management plans that clearly identify any potential negative impacts associated with the use of the facility and the relevant measures adopted to manage or mitigate such threats should they occur. Further, the plan should state how the facility operator plans to address noise control concerns, law enforcement location and presence on and around the sports facility, evacuation and emergency measures. Additionally, under sport facility Operations Management legislation, the owners and operators of such facilities are under a legal obligation to ensure there are sufficient installation, design, operation and maintenance of lighting in and outside the sports facility, particularly during major events.
Application of the Relevant Legislation to the Sports Facility/Venue
The legislation on sports facility operations may be relevant in restricting and compensating for negligence and other unintentional torts that may be committed in the course of operations and that result in loss or damage to third parties (Schwarzet al. 2010, p.145). Other legal issues that such a legislative framework may be used to solve in relation to the management of sports facilities include intellectual property rights such as patents, marketing issues and other legal challenges related to contract and employment law. As stated above, the relevant provisions of the legislation must be put into practice to ensure the safety and security of users of the facility. The provisions of the Act with reference to risk and disaster management should provide that operators shall put in place facility communication strategies to inform users of the facility on how to conduct themselves in case of disaster breakout in order to reduce injuries. Additionally, the provisions of the legislation on the planning, design and construction activities in the sports facility can be effectively applied to ensure that feasibility studies, and facility or program impact analysis are carried out by operators of such facilities.
In addition to these, the relevant legislation may be applied to the sport facility and venue by ensuring that the owners or operators of the facility obtain legally valid licenses from the local authorities before commencing their operations. Also, the legislation should provide a mandatory scheme of insurance cover for the sports facility against such risks as fire and other hazards. Such a provision may be applied to ensure that owners of sports facilities have insurance covers to cater for compensation for any loss, damage or harm done to any person including players, fans and employees of the facility while using the stadium. At Wembley, for instance, the owners of the stadium have insured the facility with a number of insurance companies in the UK.
Analysis of the Limitations and Challenges of Legislation in Sports Facility Operation
According to Schwarz, Hall and Shibli (2010), some of the major legal concerns that sports facility operators face include the law relating to governance and ownership, financial concerns, design and construction; organizational management, accountability, lawsuits, human resource management and risk management. Despite the fact that legislation on the operations management of a sports facility may go a long way in ensuring safety and security, a number of challenges are bound to arise. These challenges may inhibit the effective operation of the facility or the full implementation of the relevant provisions of the law on sport facility operations. For instance, there could be limitations inherent in the Act with regards to the scope of operation of various management plans by operators. Further, there could be financial challenges in the implementation of the provisions of the legislation that require operators to spend a lot of funds to maintain their facilities at the expense of profitability. Also, noise reduction within the stadium may be difficult to control as provided by the Act. Furthermore, according to Mahoy (2003), there are usually challenges in such pieces of legislation with regards to the access by disabled persons.
While the Activity Centers (Young Persons’ Safety) Act requires operators to provide appropriate facilities to enable easy access by the disabled, most stadiums lack these facilities due to costs of designing facilities to conform to these standards. Also, there may sometimes be operational efficiency issues with sports facilities whereby operators fail to adhere to the rules and regulations under the legislation. It may also be difficult to apply the provisions of the legislation in operations such as ensuring effective communication, enough parking spaces and adequate lighting. Furthermore, managing security issues particularly during sports events may prove challenging even for law enforcement police as was evident in the Hillsborough Stadium disaster. Management of security and safety within and without the stadium as required by the Act and similar legislation may also present challenges to the owners and operators.
Evaluation of the Key Health and Safety Legislation Applying to the Operation of Wembley Stadium
In England, the safety and health of users of stadiums is undertaken by the Football Licensing Authority and the Sports Grounds Safety Authority established in 2011. There is also the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 that seeks to ensure that the managers of sports facilities put in place measures and contingency plans in case of fire outbreak in stadiums. There is also the Disability Discrimination Act 2005 that requires all operators and owners of all sports facilities to take reasonable measures to ensure that disabled users of the facilities are not discriminated upon or denied access. Besides these legal instruments, there is the written spectator safety policy that every sports ground manager is required by the law to have. After the Taylor Report, the English legislators passed relevant laws that sought to ensure health, safety and security of fans and players inside football stadia, troubled by the sorry state of most stadia. One such stadium that received massive facial uplift was the Webley Stadium with a seating capacity of over ninety thousand fans. Currently, it is a legal requirement that each football club appoints a stadium safety officer who has the responsibility of ensuring the safety of al fans entering and leaving the sports facility (Zoran et al. 2011). The stadium also has a match police commander to organize and provide adequate security for players and spectators. The most important piece of legal instrument that ensures safety and security of users of sports facilities in England such as the Wembley Stadium id the Green Guide to Safety at Sports Grounds enacted by the government of UK.
The Wembley Stadium has adopted the provisions of the Sports Grounds Safety Authority Act 2011and related laws and regulations in a number of significant ways. According to an annual report by the UK Sports Grounds Safety Authority (2012), the stadium is one of the English stadia that have complied with the provisions of the Act and Guide by putting in place appropriate safety measures such as fire risk assessments, emergency services, proper communication and crush barriers. Furthermore, the managers of the stadium have put in place first aid medical equipment rooms, stadium inspection tests, spectator circulation, barrier heights, Spector accommodation, spectator galleries, lighting and electrical installations have also been fitted in accordance with the set statutory requirements. Moreover, in compliance with the Disability Discrimination Act 2005, the management of the stadium has ensured that the various structures such as seats, entry and exit points are designed in such a way that disabled fans can easily access the stadium facilities. Further, the stadium operations management is in tandem with section 1 of part 1 of the Act which requires all football stadia to be licensed by the Sports Grounds Safety Authority.
In summary, with the health, safety and security issues in sports facilities like stadia becoming matters of concern globally, sports authorities and governments have taken a variety of measures to reign in on them. The Wembley stadium is a quintessential example of a sports facility where modern administrative and legal aspects of facility operations management have been at play. Through the relevant pieces of legislation, the UK government has put in place appropriate measures to bolster safety and security of all stakeholders using the facility. It is therefore important for managers and operators of such facilities to keep abreast and appraised of this legal framework to ensure continued health, safety and security standards in all sports facilities.
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