Sheffield United boss breaks silence after Rhian Brewster, Oli McBurnie are charged following Nottingham Forest pitch invasion

Sheffield United boss Paul Heckingbottom says the club will support strikers Rhian Brewster and Oli McBurnie after the pair were charged with common assault following the Blades’ play-off against Nottingham Forest at the City Ground.

Thursday, 23rd June 2022, 5:18 pm

Forest’s penalty shootout victory sparked chaotic scenes, which saw a pitch invasion and United skipper Billy Sharp attacked by a Forest fan who was later jailed for six months.

A separate incident involving the players and a Forest supporter was also filmed and uploaded to social media, with both players voluntarily attending interviews with Nottinghamshire Police in the aftermath.

Both players “strenuously” deny the charge, according to a United statement, and Heckingbottom addressed the incident in a press conference this afternoon designed to coincide with the release of his side’s new season fixtures.

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“As a club and personally, we’re really disappointed. Obviously, we knew the questioning was ongoing and we all saw the situation.

“I have written to the EFL and LMA about protecting their members. This is not me speaking about Nottingham Forest or Nottinghamshire Police; this is me talking about football in general.

“There were incidents all over the place and we can't let that happen again.

Oli McBurnie and Rhian Brewster of Sheffield United: Simon Bellis / Sportimage

"If anyone sees any incidents like that again next season someone should be losing their job, definitely. It's foolish and unsafe.

"I am looking at the man hours, the expense while this is ongoing … why not put police round the pitch? It's cheaper, we would not have had anyone attacked, we would not have someone in prison and would not have two professional athletes having to go through it again."

“There’s nothing we can do other than support them,” Heckingbottom added.

“It can drag on for a long, long time. It’s irrelevant to the football, really. We need to focus on the season and make sure their focus is on the football as well.

“I’ve experienced it as a player as well, in a play-off game and unless you’ve been there, you don’t know what it’s like. You’re in a place of work and getting attacked.

“It wouldn’t happen anywhere else. Look at the NHS for example. There’s a zero-tolerance approach to any violence or intimidation, rightly, and we can’t just say: ‘It happens in football’. We have to be strong.”