Sheffield United: FA set to visit, after Oli McBurnie and Rhian Brewster charged following Nottingham Forest incident

A representative from the Football Association is scheduled to visit Sheffield United next month as part of their investigation into events following the second-leg of the Championship play-off semi-final against Nottingham Forest.

Friday, 24th June 2022, 3:00 pm
Updated Friday, 24th June 2022, 3:56 pm

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After expressing his disappointment that Rhian Brewster and Oli McBurnie are being charged in relation to an incident during the post-match pitch invasion, United manager Paul Heckingbottom continued to question the crowd control measures which had been in place at the City Ground during a media briefing on Thursday.

Billy Sharp, the United captain, was violently assaulted by Forest supporter Robert Biggs as he stood in the technical area - with the electrical engineer from Ilkeston later being jailed.

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Officials from the FA now want to canvass Heckingbottom’s opinion on what can be done to prevent repeat scenes in the future, with the 44-year-old revealing he also contacted the League Managers’ Association and Professional Footballers’ Association during the immediate aftermath.

“It’s just about this problem, that we saw happen a lot towards the end of last season, in general,” Heckingbottom told The Star. “It was serious what happened down there. There’s no getting away from it.

“There is the box ticking exercise, that people have to go through, to show they are doing the things they need to do. But there is also a genuine concern and that’s what the FA are reacting to, in all fairness. There’s a genuine concern this could happen again. So we’ll be sitting down to have a chat when we get back from (warm weather training) in Portugal.”

Paul Heckingbottom is still furious about events which followed Sheffield United's play-off against Nottingham Forest last season: Simon Bellis / Sportimage

Speaking after United were informed that Brewster and McBurnie are being summoned to appear in court on common assault charges, Heckingbottom pointedly refused to criticise the duo when asked about the situation.

“Personally, I’m really disappointed,” he said. “We knew they were being questioned. I wrote to the LMA and PFA about protecting their members.

“This isn’t me talking about Forest or the police. But there were incidents happening all over the place. If we see incidents like that at the end of next season, someone should be losing their job, surely?

The Sheffield United manager is sue to meet the FA soon: Darren Staples / Sportimage

“Why not just put police around the pitch? It would be cheaper, we wouldn't have someone in prison and there wouldn’t be two professional athletes going through it all over again.”

“It can get dragged on a long time,” Heckingbottom added. “Richard Bevan at the LMA was really upset (about the pitch invasion). Someone from the FA is coming out after we get back from Portugal for my views. You are in your place of work and you are getting attacked. Look at the NHS. There is zero tolerance for any intimidation. It needs to be like that across the board.”

A group of Forest supporters who were disgusted by the attack on Sharp have set up a fundraising page for a charity close to the centre-forward’s heart, which has so far collected more than £16,000 in donations.

A spokesperson for the PFA said their organisation has made the issue “a priority”, saying: “More widely, the PFA has been working with the police to demonstrate the immediate and longer term impact of such incidents, and provided impact statements highlighting the levels of intimidation and threat felt by players and their families.”