Man charged with assault on Chesterfield FC player

Ian Evatt with Physio Rodger Wylde after taking a blow to the head - Pic By James Williamson
Ian Evatt with Physio Rodger Wylde after taking a blow to the head - Pic By James Williamson
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A man has been charged in connection with an assault on Chesterfield captain Ian Evatt, Lancashire Police have said.

The defender reported he had been “punched, kicked and spat on” after Preston supporters invaded the pitch at the end of their Sky Bet League One play-off semi-final win at Deepdale on Sunday.

Chesterfield vs Preston North End - Ian Evatt gets tot he ball ahead of Preston's Jermaine Beckford - Pic By James Williamson

Chesterfield vs Preston North End - Ian Evatt gets tot he ball ahead of Preston's Jermaine Beckford - Pic By James Williamson

A statement from Lancashire Police tonight read: “A man has been charged in connection with an assault on a Chesterfield player yesterday (May 10).

“Matthew Edwards, 20, of Southern Avenue, Preston has been charged with section 39 assault (battery) and is due to appear at Preston Magistrates Court on Thursday 28th May 2015.

“Officers are working alongside Preston North End in their investigation into the alleged assault on Chesterfield player Ian Evatt, which followed an otherwise largely peaceful pitch incursion at the end of the Preston vs Chesterfield match at Deepdale on Sunday. The player was thankfully not seriously hurt.”

The statement added that the police were working to identify anyone who was involved in the incident and were appealing for those with information or who witnessed the incident to call or contact Crimestoppers anonymously.

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Evatt believes it is only a matter of time before players are hurt during pitch invasions by an “idiot with a knife”.

On Monday Evatt - who gave a statement to police after the game which Preston won 3-0 - called for the Football Association to act.

The Professional Footballers’ Association, whose chairman Ritchie Humphreys was an unused substitute for Chesterfield at Deepdale, echoed Evatt’s thoughts.

A statement read: “The union is deeply concerned that a member has been attacked by fans and will work closely with Ian Evatt, Ritchie Humphreys and Chesterfield FC in order to offer our full support and guidance.

“The PFA will continue to address this matter with the relevant bodies to try and ensure that this behaviour is eradicated from the game, before a player is seriously injured in a similar incident.”

Evatt told talkSPORT on Monday morning he is concerned a player could get seriously hurt after the scenes following Preston’s 4-0 aggregate win which sent them to Wembley.

Evatt, who used to play for Preston’s rivals Blackpool, said: “How long is it going to go on for until a player gets seriously injured? All it takes is one idiot with a knife or whatever else. It’s going to happen one day, until something is done about it.

“The only way people are going to learn is if the clubs get punished. I don’t want that but how else are fans going to learn not to go on the pitch? We can’t bring back the cages.

“There’s got to be a way round it so maybe it is time for the FA to stand up and start punishing people for doing it.

“I was terrified, I’m a big guy but in the changing room afterwards I was distraught because I have never been faced with such anger. It was scary, especially being on my own.”

The Football Association says it will contact Preston for its observations on the pitch invasion and incidents.

The FA will look into the level of stewarding at the game, any appropriate measures that were taken and what the club is doing to identify the people involved.

Anyone with any further information or who witnessed the incident can contact police on 101 quoting log number 0835 of May 10.