A man has been charged with attacking Aston Villa midfielder Jack Grealish on the pitch during a Championship match at Birmingham City.
Grealish was struck by a man who ran on to the pitch about 10 minutes into Sunday’s derby.
It was one of three such incidents over the weekend. Yesterday, a spectator was arrested after running on to the field of play and shoving Manchester United defender Chris Smalling during their tie at Arsenal.
On Friday, a man was arrested after Rangers’ James Tavernier was confronted during the Scottish Premiership draw with Hibs.
Sky News sports editor Nick Powell says “a part of football died” when Grealish was attacked, adding: “Things will never feel quite the same again.” The Mirror talks of a “Derby Day of Shame” while The Times describes it as a “dark day for English football”.
The Times’s chief football writer Henry Winter says: “The authorities cannot allow a copycat escalation. Their action has to be robust.” The Daily Star describes the attacker as a “coward”.
Following the attack, Villa captain Grealish sat on the St Andrew’s pitch before being helped up by players from both teams. He was able to continue and scored the winner in the 67th minute.
The Football Association said it “strongly condemned the incident”, promising that it would be “working with the police, the relevant authorities and the club to ensure the appropriate action is taken”.
Birmingham City apologised to Grealish and Villa. It added that it would be reviewing its stadium safety procedures.
Arsenal apologised to Smalling and said it will be “working closely with the Metropolitan Police in their investigation”.
Hibernian chief executive Leeann Dempster described himself as “raging and furious” after Friday’s incident, vowing that “nothing is off the table” in response.