March 10, 2019
• Birmingham vow to ban the fan from St Andrew’s for life
• Man arrested after attacking Villa midfielder early in game

Birmingham City have said a supporter will be banned from St Andrew’s for life after he attacked Aston Villa midfielder Jack Grealish during the Birmingham derby.
The incident occurred less than 10 minutes into the game when Grealish was in the Birmingham penalty area and a spectator in a flat cap ran on to the field and threw a punch from behind the visiting captain, striking him on the side of the head.
The intruder was quickly restrained by stewards as several other Villa players rushed in to confront him. He was led away by police, blowing kisses to the crowd as he left, and was later arrested.
“Birmingham City Football Club would like to apologise to Jack Grealish and Aston Villa for an incident in this afternoon’s derby match,” a club statement said. “We deplore the behaviour of the individual who committed this act and rest assured he will be banned from St. Andrew’s for life. The club will also support any further punishment this individual may face in the eyes of the law.
“The club will be working with the relevant authorities to investigate all the circumstances and we will be reviewing our stadium safety procedures. What happened has no place in football or society. Jack is a Birmingham lad and regardless of club allegiance should not have been subjected to this – there are no excuses. Again, we apologise to Jack and all at Aston Villa.”
Grealish went on to score the winning goal in the 67th minute of the game, and was booked for his celebrations with the away fans. “Best day of my life. To come here, captain Aston Villa and score the winner is what dreams are made of, especially for me as a Villa fan,” he said.
“I was just unaware at the time, I was walking into position and then just felt a whack around the side of the face,” Grealish said about the incident. “Obviously there’s rivalry and stuff in football but I don’t think there’s any place for that really. I just tried to get on with my job. To score the winner was unbelievable, after what happened in the first half I think it was set up for it.”
A post on the West Midlands Police Twitter feed read: “ARREST: Following the incident on the pitch involving an attack on an Aston Villa player; a man has been arrested and en route to a custody block. Further details to follow.”
The incident followed a bad-tempered opening to the game, in which Birmingham’s Maikel Kieftenbeld was booked for scything down Grealish, while there were also clashes between fans outside the stadium before kick-off. Police had to hold back fans while at least one man was seen being treated by paramedics after suffering a head wound.
The EFL has criticised the supporter, issuing a statement to say it “condemns the mindless actions of the individual who encroached on to the pitch at St Andrews on Sunday afternoon. It’s a situation no player should ever be faced with. In all circumstances the playing surface is for players, not supporters and those playing in the game must be able to do so safe in the knowledge they will not be subjected to this type of behaviour. Whilst this incident falls within the remit of the FA, we will work with all the relevant parties to address the issue of player and match officials safety on the pitch and ensure the appropriate action is taken.”
The West Ham midfielder Declan Rice, who like Grealish has opted to play his international football for England rather than Ireland, was quick to react to the incident, tweeting: “Absolutely disgraceful what just happened to Jack Grealish”.
The former England defender turned Sky pundit Gary Neville called for Birmingham City to be docked points over the attack. He tweeted: “The club are going have to take a huge punishment for this to act as a deterrent in the future. A points deduction or empty stadium for 10 games!”
The attack on Grealish following a number of high-profile incidents of crowd trouble in Scottish football. In Friday’s 1-1 draw with Hibernian at Easter Road, the Rangers captain, James Tavernier, found himself face to face with a fan who had jumped out of the home support before being led away. Police later confirmed a 21-year-old man had been arrested.
That incident came six days after a glass bottle was thrown from the same section of the stadium as Celtic’s Scott Sinclair prepared to take a corner in a Scottish Cup game and on top of a series of missile-throwing incidents this season.
Stoke’s former Scotland midfielder Charlie Adam tweeted: “Twice in three days we’ve seen players attacked by supporters, what is going on? Football needs to stamp this out quickly. Only a matter of time before someone is seriously hurt.”
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