EFL threatens 'new measures' following attack on Billy Sharp at Nottingham Forest

The English Football League has confirmed it will consider imposing restrictions on crowd capacity inside its members’ stadia following the attack on Sheffield United captain Billy Sharp during the Championship play-off match at Nottingham Forest.

Thursday, 19th May 2022, 12:22 pm

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Sharp, who missed the game through injury, was knocked to the ground as the home fans streamed onto the pitch to celebrate beating Paul Heckingbottom’s side on penalties.

A 31-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of assault, with United revealing after the game that Sharp required medical treatment before leaving the stadium.

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A Nottingham Forest player escorts Sheffield United's Morgan Gibbs-White off the pitch as fans invade the playing surface at the City Ground: Mike Egerton/PA Wire.

With both Heckingbottom and the Professional Footballers’ Association both calling for more to be done to protect ensure “people are safe at their place of work”, an EFL spokesperson reminded supporters it is an offence to encroach onto the playing surface whilst acknowledging the organisation could take further steps to tackle what is concedes is an alarming rise in such incidents.

The statement

Luton Town also complained about the treatment they were subjected to after losing their semi-final to Huddersfield Town earlier this week.

Sheffield United's Billy Sharp before the Sky Bet Championship play-off semi-final, second leg match at the City Ground, Nottingham: Mike Egerton/PA Wire.

Branding the situation “unsavoury” and “unacceptable”, the EFL said: “We recognise that this lawlessness is being conducted by a small minority of individuals and that the majority of people attending matches are a credit to their club.

“However, it is not acceptable for supporters to enter the field of play at any time given the EFL’s objective is to ensure our matches remain a safe and welcoming one for all.

“Therefore, over the summer we will consider what further measures are now at our disposal, including the potential use of capacity reductions or other similar mitigations.”

The response

The EFL, which governs the three divisions directly below the Premier League and also the Carabao Cup, is liaising with Nottinghamshire Police and United as the investigation into events at the City Ground continues. A group of Forest fans have set up a fundraising page on the internet to raise funds for a charity of Sharp’s choice as a show of solidarity with the 36-year-old who made 40 appearances during a spell on loan at Forest earlier in his career.

Heckingbottom branded the person responsible for the attack a “coward” during an emotional interview after the final whistle.