Nottinghamshire police have launched an investigation after Sheffield United’s Billy Sharp appeared to be head-butted by a fan at the end of the Championship playoff semi-final.
Video emerged online of the celebrations following Nottingham Forest’s 3-2 penalty shootout win apparently showing a fan running at Sharp, who was on loan at Forest during the 2012-13 season, during the pitch invasion and knocking him to the ground.
Nottingham Forest released a statement saying they were “appalled” by the footage of their former player being “assaulted”.
“The club will work with the authorities to locate the individual in order they are held to account for their actions, which will include a life ban from Nottingham Forest,” it read. “The club would also like to apologise to Billy personally and to Sheffield United.”
As Sharp lay on the floor, the man sprinted away from the scene. The Sheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom told Sky Sports: “There’s a prison sentence there for sure. We’re seeing things thrown on the pitch and things that are thrown on putting players’ health and safety in danger and nothing’s ever done about it. There will be something done about that. We’ve seen what’s happened, we know what’s happened.
“How can you come to a place of work minding your own business and be assaulted in that fashion? It’s just bang out of order and it’s everything that’s wrong. Too many times we hear people condemn it, but nothing’s done about it. We’re the ones that suffered.
“It’s assault. We’ve seen one of our players attacked. He’s shuck up, bleeding, angry. It’ll be dealt with.
“It’s upsetting for a lot of reasons – I don’t want to say too much more about it. He’ll be dealt with.”
Nottinghamshire police’s assistant chief constable Rob Griffin said: “Enquiries are under way to identify the offender and we will be looking to make an arrest as soon as possible.
“We have seen the footage, as many others will have who watched the televised match, and we are appealing for anyone who knows who the offender is to please get in contact with us as soon as possible.
“We have spoken to the player concerned and we are working with both clubs which are supporting us with our investigation which will continue through the night.
“Our extensive enquiries remain ongoing. Anyone with information on this incident is asked to call Nottinghamshire Police on 101.”
Nottingham Forest lost the game 2-1 on the night, but a 3-3 aggregate score meant the tie was settled by a penalty shootout, which was won by Steve Cooper’s side 3-2. They will now go to Wembley to face Huddersfield for a place in next season’s Premier League on Sunday 29 May.