We make no bones about repeating the message about goalpost safety. Indeed, all sports equipment needs to be checked regularly as being 'fit for purpose' to avoid injury
If you use goalposts, you must make sure that the goalposts are safe before you use them. You must be clear about maintaining them. You must follow the manufacturer's instructions and/or the facility operator's instructions where appropriate. If you have a question about the safety of goalposts, you should speak to the relevant facility operator or manufacturer.
It is incumbent on you to report any suspected defects to your relevant line manager. Do so in writing to ensure a proper paper trail in the event of any mishaps or accidents.
Facility operators and manufacturers should make sure that they are aware of the latest developments in goalpost safety and should read the relevant codes of practice or standards at all times.
Goals that are acceptable under these technical details may be made from metals or plastics. Some of the details vary depending on the type of material from which the goal is made.
For safety reasons, goalposts of any size (including those which are portable and not installed permanently at a pitch or practice field) must always be anchored securely to the ground or have a weighted back bar.
• Portable goalposts must be secured as per the manufacturer's instructions; this is also a requirement for the Laws of the Game
• Under no circumstances should children or adults be allowed to climb on, swing or play with the structure of the goalposts
• Particular attention is drawn to the fact that, if not properly assembled and secured, portable goalposts may overturn
• Regular inspections of goalposts must be carried out to check that they are properly maintained
Portable goalposts should not be left in place after use. They should be either dismantled and removed to a place of secure storage, or placed together and suitable fixings applied to prevent unauthorised use at any time.
The use of metal cup hooks on any part of a goal frame was banned from the commencement of season 2007-08 and match officials should not commence matches where such net fixings are evident for safety reasons. Nets may be secured by plastic fixings, arrow head shaped plastic hooks or tape and not by metal cup hooks. Any metal cup hooks should be removed and replaced. New goalposts should not be purchased if they include metal cup hooks.
Goalposts which are "home made" or which have been altered from their original size or construction should not be used under any circumstances as they potentially pose a serious safety risk.
There is no BS/CEN standard for wooden goals and it is unlikely that wooden goals will pass a load or stability test. The FA recommends that wooden goals should be replaced with compliant metal, aluminium or plastic goalposts. All wooden goals previously tested by independent consultants have failed strength and stability tests.
For reference, you should note that The FA and BSI, in conjunction with the industry, have developed two standards for goalposts - BSEN 748 (2004) BS 8461:2005 +A1: 2009 and BS 8462: 2005 +A2: 2012.
It is strongly recommended that you ensure that all goals purchased comply with the relevant standard. A Code of Practice BS 8461 has also been completed and copies of all of these three standards are available from the BSI.
Funding for the replacement of unsafe goals is available via the Football Foundation and eligibility criteria and further details can be obtained from their website.
The FA, together with representatives from the industry, sports governing bodies and Government, have prepared guidance notes for pitch users and pitch providers, which summarise the key priorities of the BSI's Code of Practice and provide further details on the information included above. These details are featured within the facilities section of The FA's website: www.TheFA.com
All ground managers have a responsibility to ensure that goal posts are inspected regularly to ensure that they are still safe to be used. This is documented in BS 8461, Code of practice for the procurement, installation, maintenance, storage and inspection of football goals.
Given that goals are stored and used under a variety of conditions, it is hard to specify exactly what should be checked. Some may be kept permanently outdoors in an open public space and therefore be used more regularly than those which are locked away and only used by a specific club.
The following notes are intended to be used as a guide to determine the minimum frequency of checks that are required for each set of goals. You should ensure that you review your guidelines regularly based on what is found; if faults are recorded at each inspection, then clearly the frequency of inspections should increase accordingly.
Inspection 1 - Undertaken at least every week and before any game or training activity.
Carry out a detailed visual check of the whole goal, and check for the following:
• Loose and missing nuts, bolts, pins and other fixings
• Firm attachment to anchoring points or signs of movement in the sockets
• Broken or missing net fixings
• Any broken cord in the nets
• Bent sections or other damage to any part of the goal
• All identification and instruction labels are firmly attached and legible
Inspection 2 - undertaken each time a goal is repositioned.
Carry out all of the checks in Inspection 1 and:
• Check that the goal has been firmly reattached to its anchors
• Check the anchors are secure
• If weights are used, check that they are all present
• Check that the goal has not been bent or otherwise damaged while being moved
Inspection 3 - undertaken once every 12 months, ideally at the start of the season.
Undertake all checks from Inspections 1 and 2, and:
• Check every goal for strength and stability, in accordance with BSEN748 (The European Standard for Football Goals) or BS8462. (Code of Practice for goals for youth football, futsal, mini-soccer and small-sided football). This should never be tested by hanging or swinging from the crossbar.
Written by Alastair Cox, Director of Labosport