Wednesday, 12 Jun 2024

Flying Over Football Stadiums

drone in the air
Photo by Arnabrook, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

It can be quite a challenge to get tickets for popular football matches, especially for the most successful and popular clubs. This leads many fans to explore alternative ways of watching their favorite teams play, including illegal streaming. But have you ever considered the possibility of flying over a stadium to catch a bird’s-eye view of the game? Let’s dive into the rules and risks associated with this idea.

What Are The Rules

Photo by Oyoyoy, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

To ensure safe use of the airspace, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in the United Kingdom sets the regulations for devices and vehicles that wish to fly over the country. While helicopter tours over empty stadiums are permitted, flying a drone requires adherence to specific rules and obtaining the necessary licenses.

When it comes to drones, operators must keep them in their direct line of sight at all times to prevent any potential collisions. Commercial use of drones involves additional laws, and operators need to seek permission from the CAA to fly in certain areas, including stadiums. To simplify this process, drone maker DJI offers a service to check whether a specific location is a No Fly Zone.

The Risk To Football Fans

soldier setting a drone off
Photo by Oyoyoy, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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While drones have various legitimate uses, such as farming, policing, and delivery services, flying them over packed football stadiums poses serious risks, according to the Football Safety Officers Association (FSOA). The FSOA acknowledges the potential benefits of drones but emphasizes the need for careful considerations.

Flying a drone over a stadium during a match would require the operator to be out of the line of sight of the vehicle. This raises concerns about losing control due to weather conditions or crashing into the stadium, potentially endangering players and supporters. Additionally, there is a growing fear of drones being exploited for terrorist activities, prompting heightened security measures involving CCTV and collaboration between the police and the CAA.

Flying Banners Over Grounds

Photo by Jason Rosenberg, Flickr

While there are rules and regulations surrounding flying drones over stadiums, what about flying banners with messages? In certain areas, the airspace above stadiums is not designated as No Fly Zones. This was demonstrated in 2014 when a group of Manchester United supporters funded a plane to fly over Old Trafford with a banner bearing the message, “Wrong One – Moyes Out.”

The legality of flying banners over stadiums depends on the specific location, allowing aerial messages to be displayed during certain events. However, this practice differs from hovering drones to capture images during matches.

Examples Of People Falling Foul Of The Law

The issue of flying objects over stadiums, particularly drones, gained attention in 2015 when Nigel Wilson received fines for flying his drone over football stadiums and London landmarks. The charges against him included flying over Anfield, the Emirates Stadium, and Buckingham Palace. The judge emphasized the risks involved, as Wilson flew his drone in built-up areas without maintaining visual contact.

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There are specific laws prohibiting the flying of unmanned surveillance aircraft within congested areas or near large open-air gatherings. However, the regulations for planes carrying banners are different from those governing drones. As a result, it is illegal to fly over a stadium when it is full of people but not when it is empty.

In 2018, a League One match was suspended when a drone flew over the Keepmoat Stadium during gameplay. Although no arrests were made, this incident reflects the increasing prevalence of drones around football matches.


Q: Can I legally fly a drone over a football stadium during a match?
A: Flying a drone over a stadium during a match is subject to specific regulations and requires operators to obtain the necessary permissions. It is essential to adhere to the rules set by the Civil Aviation Authority and to prioritize public safety.

Q: Are there any restrictions on flying banners over stadiums?
A: Regulations regarding flying banners over stadiums vary depending on the location. Certain areas allow aerial messages to be flown during specific events, while others may have restrictions. It is always best to check local regulations before planning any aerial activities.


While the idea of flying over a football stadium to watch a match from above may seem exciting, it is crucial to consider the rules and risks involved. The Civil Aviation Authority ensures that the use of drones is regulated and licenses are obtained. The Football Safety Officers Association highlights the potential dangers associated with flying drones over crowded stadiums. However, flying banners with messages is still possible in certain areas. As regulations continue to evolve, it is important to prioritize safety and abide by the laws governing aerial activities around stadiums. For more information on Movin993, visit

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