Fan 'headbutts' Sheffield Utd player Billy Sharp after Forest playoff semi-final win

·Freelance Writer
·4 min read

Watch: Fan 'headbutts' Sheffield Utd's Billy Sharp after Nottingham Forest playoff semi-final

A fan who allegedly headbutted Sheffield United captain Billy Sharp during a pitch invasion at the the Sky Bet Championship play-off semi-final has been arrested.

The Blades captain was sidelined for the second leg match against Nottingham Forest because of injury and was stood on the touchline after Forest secured a dramatic 3-2 penalty shootout victory following a 3-3 aggregate draw.

After the shootout a pitch invasion broke out at the City Ground and footage shared on social media appeared to show one supporter running at the 36-year-old former Forest striker and knocking him to the ground.

A fan allegedly headbutted Sheffield United captain Billy Sharp during a pitch invasion. (Twitter/Sky Sports)
A fan allegedly headbutted Sheffield United captain Billy Sharp during a pitch invasion. (Sky Sports)
Sheffield United's Billy Sharp during the Sky Bet Championship match at Bramall Lane, Sheffield. Picture date: Friday March 4, 2022.
Sheffield United's Billy Sharp was allegedly headbutted during the incident. (PA)

A man has now been arrested on suspicion of assault following an investigation by Nottinghamshire Police.

The force’s chief inspector Paul Hennessy said: “A 31-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of assault in connection with this incident. He remains in custody and will be questioned by officers.

“Our enquiries into the circumstances surrounding the incident are ongoing. We have spoken to the player concerned and we are working with both clubs who are supporting us with our investigation.”

Sharp has branded the individual a “scumbag” but said he would not lose his “respect for the Forest fans”.

In a statement posted on Twitter, he wrote: “One mindless idiot ruined what was an unbelievable night of football.

Nottingham Forest fans celebrate on the pitch after they reach the play off final during the Sky Bet Championship play-off semi-final, second leg match at the City Ground, Nottingham. Picture date: Tuesday May 17, 2022.
Nottingham Forest fans celebrate on the pitch after they reach the play off final during the Sky Bet Championship play-off semi-final, second leg match at the City Ground, Nottingham. (PA)

“Congratulations to Nottingham Forest on their victory and good luck in the final.

“As an ex-Forest player I will not let one scumbag ruin my respect for the Forest fans."

Forest have condemned the incident and said in a statement they will “will work with the authorities to locate the individual” and the offender will be subject to “a life ban” from the club.

The English Football League (EFL) released a statement condemning the pitch invasion at Forest and similar scenes at other play-off and end-of-season matches, and warned that it may consider “capacity reductions and other mitigations” if such events occur in future.

The statement read: “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.

Billy Sharp was sidelined for the second leg match against Nottingham Forest because of injury. (Sky Sports)
Billy Sharp was sidelined for the second leg match against Nottingham Forest because of injury. (Sky Sports)

“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.”

The Professional Footballers’ Association added in a statement on Twitter: “We are shocked and appalled by the senseless assault by a fan on Sheffield United’s Billy Sharp. The football pitch is a place of work for our members, 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.

“There is no place in football for this behaviour. We recognise that stewards and the police have a very difficult job, a suspect has been arrested, and Nottingham Forest have confirmed the offender will be banned for life.”

Footage of a fan allegedly attacking Billy Sharp was shared on social media. (Sky Sports)
Footage of a fan allegedly attacking Billy Sharp was shared on social media. (Sky Sports)

Sheffield United boss Paul Heckingbottom revealed Sharp required stitches after the incident.

“It’s assault,” a furious Heckingbottom claimed. “We’ve seen one of our players attacked. He’s shook up, bleeding, angry.

“Bill was minding his own business off the pitch, trying to get our players away. He was blindsided, it was cowardly. He was knocked to the ground (and required) stitches, he was shook up.”

Nottingham Forest fans celebrate on the pitch after they reach the play off final during the Sky Bet Championship play-off semi-final, second leg match at the City Ground, Nottingham. Picture date: Tuesday May 17, 2022.
Nottingham Forest fans invaded the pitch after they reached the play-off final. (PA)
Nottingham Forest fans celebrate on the pitch after they reach the play off final during the Sky Bet Championship play-off semi-final, second leg match at the City Ground, Nottingham. Picture date: Tuesday May 17, 2022.
Fans celebrated after Nottingham Forest secured a dramatic 3-2 penalty shootout victory following a 3-3 aggregate draw. (PA)

Heckingbottom added on Sky Sports: “There will be something done about that. We’ve seen what happened, we know what happened.”

The incident overshadowed Forest’s win, where the Reds’ victory secured a play-off final showdown against Huddersfield on 29 May at Wembley Stadium and the chance of a top-flight return for the first time since 1999.

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