Nottinghamshire police have arrested a man 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.
Chief Inspector Paul Hennessy, of Nottinghamshire police, said: “A 31-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of assault in connection with this incident. He remains in custody and will be questioned by officers. Our enquiries into the circumstances surrounding the incident are ongoing. We have spoken to the player concerned and we are working with both clubs who are supporting us with our investigation.”
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.”
Sharp called the man a “scumbag” who “ruined an unbelievable night of football”. Posting on Twitter on Wednesday morning, the 36-year-old said: “One mindless idiot ruined what was an unbelievable night of football. Congratulations to Nottingham Forest on their victory and good luck in the final. As an ex-Forest player I will not let one scumbag ruin my respect for the Forest fans.
“Incredibly proud to be captain of this group of Sheffield United players, they gave their all and can hold their heads up high. We will be back and go again. Thanks for all your messages and support after the incident.”
As Sharp lay on the floor, the man sprinted away from the scene. The Sheffield United manager, Paul Heckingbottom, told Sky Sports: “We’re seeing things thrown on the pitch, putting players’ health and safety in danger and nothing’s ever done about it. It’s upsetting for a lot of reasons – I don’t want to say too much more about it.”
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.