Billy Sharp: Sheffield United captain assaulted after play-off defeat to Nottingham Forest

Sheffield United's Billy Sharp was assaulted by a fan during a pitch invasion
Sheffield United’s Billy Sharp was assaulted by a fan during a pitch invasion late in the club’s Championship play-off semi-final defeat to Nottingham Forest.

Police are investigating after Sheffield United captain Billy Sharp was assaulted by a fan at the end of his Championship play-off final second leg in Nottingham Forest.

Television footage showed the fan charging Sharp during a pitch invasion while the player stood on the sidelines.

Forest won 3-2 on penalties after the two games finished 3-3 on aggregate.

Blades manager Paul Heckingbottom said Sharp needed stitches, while Forest says they are “appalled”.

“We have seen one of our players attacked,” Heckingbottom said after the match at Forest’s City Ground. “He is shaking, bleeding, angry.

“Bill was minding his own business off the court, trying to get our players away. He was caught off guard, he was cowardly. He was thrown to the ground [and required] stitches, I was shaken.

Nottinghamshire Police Chief Constable Rob Griffin said: “Inquiries are under way to identify the offender and we will seek to make an arrest as soon as possible.”

“We have seen the footage, as have many others who watched the televised match, and we are calling on anyone who knows who the offender is to contact us as soon as possible.”

“We have spoken with the player in question and are working with both clubs who are supporting us with our investigation, which will continue through the night.”

The 36-year-old Sharp, who sat out the game due to injury, played on loan at Forest in the 2012-13 season.

In a statement, Forest said the offending fan would be banned for life.

They said: “Nottingham Forest Football Club is dismayed to learn that our former player, Billy Sharp, was assaulted walking off the pitch after tonight’s game at The City Ground.

“The club will work with the authorities to locate the individual to be held accountable for his actions, which will include a lifetime ban from Nottingham Forest.

“The club would also like to personally apologize to Billy and Sheffield United Football Club.”

After the game, Heckingbottom told Sky Sports: “How can you come to your workplace and mind your own business and be mugged like that? He’s out of order and everything is wrong.”

“You hear too many times that people condemn it, but nothing is done and we are the ones who suffer. It is annoying for many reasons, but it will be dealt with.”

Sky Sports pundit and former Forest defender Michael Dawson called it an “absolute disgrace”.

In January, the UK football police leader told the bbc that arrests at football matches in the top five English leagues were at their highest levels in years, and that fan disorder was “getting worse”.

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