Billy Sharp Sheffield United: PFA calls for more to be done after 'cowardly' assault at Nottingham Forest

The Professional Footballers’ Association has expressed its “shock” at the senseless attack on Billy Sharp following Sheffield United’s Championship play-off semi-final against Nottingham Forest.

Wednesday, 18th May 2022, 5:14 pm

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Sheffield United: Boss brands Nottingham Forest fan who attacked Billy Sharp a "...

The 36-year-old, who missed the match at the City Ground through injury, was assaulted by a supporter as Forest fans raced onto the pitch to celebrate their team’s penalty shoot-out victory over Paul Heckingbottom’s side.

Standing on the touchline to help shepherd his colleagues away from the melee, television cameras captured footage of the incident, which left Sharp requiring medical treatment in the dressing room afterwards.

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Sheffield United's Billy Sharp before the Sky Bet Championship play-off semi-final, second leg match at the City Ground, Nottingham: Mike Egerton/PA Wire.

Highlighting events at Huddersfield Town 24 hours earlier, where members of Luton Town’s squad were also jostled after bowing out of the end of season knockouts, Heckingbottom called for “more to be done” to done to “protect” the “safety of people at their place of work” before labelling the person responsible a ‘coward’.

Endorsing the United manager’s sentiments, a statement issued by the PFA said: “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 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.”

Billy Sharp required stitches after the attack by a Nottingham Forest supporter: Simon Bellis / Sportimage

“There is no place in football for this behaviour,” the statement continued. “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.”

The arrest

As the union outlined, Nottinghamshire Police are questioning a 31-year-old man as part of their investigation. Paul Hennessy, a chief inspector with the force, confirmed its officers have also spoken with Sharp and are liaising with both United and Forest. Officials from Bramall Lane contacted media companies broadcasting the fixture, which Heckingbottom’s men won 2-1 after losing the first leg by the same scoreline, immediately after the attack as part of their own evidence gathering process.

Sheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom: Mike Egerton/PA Wire.

“Finally our thoughts are with Billy and we hope he recovers quickly,” the PFA statement concluded.