Sheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom described the incident as a "cowardly" attack

Professional Footballers' Association calls for review into fan disorder

The Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) has called for a review into matchday security and fan disorder after an alleged assault on Sheffield United captain Billy Sharp.

Television footage showed a fan charge at Sharp during a pitch invasion after the Blades’ Championship play-off defeat at Nottingham Forest.

Nottinghamshire Police have arrested a 31-year-old man following the incident.

The PFA said it was “shocked and appalled by the senseless assault”.

The EFL condemned the pitch invasion at Forest and has warned it could consider measures including capacity reductions, should such similar occurrences happen in future.

Sharp, 36, said on Wednesday that “one mindless idiot” had ruined “an unbelievable night of football”, as Forest won 3-2 on penalties after the tie ended 3-3 on aggregate.

Blades manager Paul Heckingbottom said the former Forest player required stitches following what he described as a “cowardly” attack – adding that his player “was shook up”.

"There is no place in football for this behaviour. This is one of a growing number of incidents this season. Matchday security and fan disorder needs to be reviewed ahead of next season, and we will be raising player safety with the clubs, leagues and the UK Football Policing Unit."

PFA statement

The EFL said: “We recognise that this lawlessness is being conducted by a small minority of individuals and that the majority of people attending matches are a credit to their club.

“However, it is not acceptable for supporters to enter the field of play at any time given the EFL’s objective is to ensure our matches remain a safe and welcoming one for all.

“Therefore, over the summer we will consider what further measures are now at our disposal, including the potential use of capacity reductions or other similar mitigations.”


Sharp assault latest incident amid rise in disorder


In response to the assault on Sharp, the FA said it would investigate the incident “as a matter of urgency” and work with the clubs and relevant authorities “to ensure the appropriate steps are taken”.

Forest said the offending fan would be banned for life.

An 85-year-old Luton Town supporter was left with a head injury after a coin was thrown at himat the end of his club’s Championship play-off semi-final match at Huddersfield on Monday.

Huddersfield fans also invaded the pitch on that occasion and West Yorkshire Police confirmed arrests were made at the ground.

In January, the UK’s football policing lead told the BBC that football-related arrests across the top five English leagues were at their highest levels in years.

That month, Aston Villa’s Matty Cash and Lucas Digne, and Chelsea’s Antonio Rudiger were hit by objects thrown from the crowd in two separate Premier League games.

A review into the disorder at Wembley before last summer’s Euro 2020 final found “a horde of ticketless, drunken and drugged-up thugs” could have caused death.

Liverpool’s equality manager Rishi Jain said fans had “forgotten how to behave” since the Covid-19 lockdowns amid a “huge increase” in offensive and discriminatory behaviour at games.

Original article published 18.05.2022 on BBC Sport website.

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