Feature: Security planning

Sport Business News

Increasing demands on a city are not making it any easier to host sports events, and security is becoming a major burden financially, writes Rachael Church–Sanders, in an extract from her SportBusiness report, Ultimate Sports Cities 2008.

"Often safety and security planning at a sports event is driven by legislation and the requirements of insurers, " says Nigel Rushman, managing director of security and events consultancy, Rushmans Limited: "Organising committees and federations are definitely getting better at planning for safety and security at sports events, but it is difficult to come up with one model that can applied to all. "For a large sports event, the military, police and rescue services need to be co–ordinated and usually someone in the organising committee heads up this function. "The logistics can be a lot trickier in the case of a FIFA World Cup where you are dealing with more than one province, than an Olympics which is just in one major city, " adds Rushman. "Putting together a lot of people with different backgrounds and views can be problematic and get bogged down in politics so there's definitely a case for a governing body or organising committee to use an outside source for driving security policy. " When it comes to security on the actual event day, "a huge amount of planning needs to have been implemented for a major event – an absolute minimum of three years, " says Rushman. "Practicing at test events is extremely important and issues include the ingress and egress of spectators, pedestrian management, access control, accreditation of media and VIPs etc, crowd control, medical provisions and so on. From a practical level, an early start on the day is a must so that systems can be checked and staff put in place. "What makes a good security/safety experience on event–day for a spectator? "There's always a trade–off between moving people in and out of a venue quickly and not being too draconian, " says Rushman. "However, a good security experience is one that highlights to people that they are safe–fans get comfort from knowing they are being looked after. "Governing bodies however can sometimes become overzealous in protecting the rights of their commercial partners, "usually when there is blatant ambushing, " explains Rushman. Whilst there is usually a list of restricted items, such as bottles that could be thrown onto the field of play, when it comes to protecting say a pouring rights sponsor, there needs to be a balance between what can be confiscated because it can cause damage and what can be confiscated because it might stop spectators buying drinks inside the stadium. "Not to mention the negative PR that could come out of heavy–handed policing, " says Rushman. "Security should be a tool that is used to act on instructions. It's up to the federation what they want to allow in and out of an event. But there needs to be a policy in place that is communicated to spectators before an event. " With some sports events now banning mobile phones, the logistics of enforcing that sort of regulation versus allowing large queues at security to build up as a consequence need to be carefully managed. Sponsorship consultant Pippa Collett agrees that when it comes at protecting their partners against the vagaries of ambush marketing initiatives, event organisers shouldn't be too heavy–handed. "No–one wants to be associated with people being ejected from events for wearing the wrong clothing or drinking the wrong fizzy drink. Security staff should be briefed on where to draw the line. Sometimes you even have to admire some of the ambush marketers for their creative thinking!"On the financial side, Rushman concurs that security bills are getting larger for major sports events but sees the whole area as a necessary evil. "It's a brave person who turns down a request for budget for security or safety, " he says. "They need to be pretty sure of themselves and an event's needs if they turn around and say 'no'. "But are the costs of security becoming too prohibitive for some cities to even consider bidding for an event in the first place? Rushman believes the future is looking brighter: "Costs have already spiralled so I would now expect to start to see a flattening out of costs. I certainly wouldn't expect any major shocks when it comes to budgets for future events. Events such as the Olympics will always have huge security budgets but these can be misleading as they can encompass costs that wouldn't be included in a smaller event. Against a backdrop of costs stabilising, I would also expect this side of the sports industry to become more specialised and sophisticated. "Industry consultant Richard Callicott raises a point of concern: "Volunteerism is a huge part of safety and security planning and leads to extra demands on the budget. Just the acts of training them, running police checks on them, undertaking health and safety training for venues and equipment and so on have increased costs considerably in the last 10 years or so. Whether this puts off cities wanting to bid for an event, I don't know, but it is certainly having an impact. If a feasibility study is done properly though then this shouldn't be an issue. "Like in most areas of running a sports event, technology is having a major influence on safety and security, adds Rushman. "Whether is it ticketless technology to get people into venues faster, infra–red measurement of how quickly seating areas are getting filled, or pinpointing suspicious or unusual behaviour, technology is leading the way in managing crowds and monitoring potential threats. " However, Rushman adds a note of caution. "Obviously systems need to be tried and tested before they are used at a high–profile event so it can be risky being the first to use new technology. "Ultimate Sports Cities 2008 is published by SportBusiness, priced £795. Divided into two parts, this report firstly sets out what is required of an aspiring sports city. Using interviews, case examples and leading industry experts, it uncovers the skills and experience cities need to acquire to move up the ranking. Part 2 of the report goes through the ranking in detail demonstrating why the winners were so highly placed, what some of those further down the list are doing to improve their status and those cities worldwide who are likely to make the list next time. Whether you are an aspiring Sports City or an event organiser looking to select your next location this is a comprehensive and invaluable resource. With over 180 pages of data, information, case studies, best practice examples and interviews with industry experts, Ultimate Sports Cities is more than just another report. For further details visit:http://www. sportbusiness. com/reports/166633/ultimate–sports–cities–2008For more specific security news, click on the security area at the top or bottom of the MEI home page.

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