David Duckenfield and Norman Bettison have been charged with criminal offences over the Hillsborough disaster and its aftermath.
They are among six individuals that have been charged following two major investigations that focused on the causes of the tragedy and the alleged cover-up that followed.
South Yorkshire Ambulance service are not among those facing charges.
Each of those charged will now appear in court - and could face trials - after the launch of legal proceedings against them.
Just over 28 years after the disaster unfolded on the Leppings Lane terraces the families of the 96 Reds fans who died, survivors and campaigners were told of the charges in a private briefing by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).
Sue Hemming, head of the organisation’s special crime and counter-terrorism division, broke the news to those gathered at Parr Hall in Warrington at 11am.
In reaching the decisions, lawyers from the CPS have spent six months examining evidence against 23 suspects identified by the two criminal probes launched in 2012.
Those charged are:
· David Duckenfield, who was the Match Commander for South Yorkshire Police on the day of the disaster
· Graham Henry Mackrell, who was Sheffield Wednesday Football Club’s company secretary and safety officer at the time of the disaster in 1989
· Peter Metcalf, the solicitor acting for the South Yorkshire Police during the Taylor Inquiry and the first inquests
· Former Chief Superintendent Donald Denton of South Yorkshire Police
· Former Detective Chief Inspector Alan Foster of South Yorkshire Police
· Norman Bettison, a former officer with South Yorkshire Police and subsequently Chief Constable of Merseyside and West Yorkshire Police
Each of the suspects will now be given court dates as criminal proceedings begin.
Any that plead not guilty to the allegations against them are likely to face a crown court trial.
The charges follow a complex process of investigations that followed the work of the Hillsborough Independent Panel, which concluded in 2012.