A man has been arrested after Sheffield United captain Billy Sharp was assaulted by a fan following the club’s game with Nottingham Forest.
In a statement, 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.”
Footage showed Sharp, 36, being charged at by the supporter during a pitch invasion after Forest won 3-2 on penalties after the two legs finished 3-3 on aggregate.
Sharp was knocked to the ground and needed stitches after the attack, Sheffield United boss Paul Heckingbottom said.
“It’s assault,” Heckingbottom said.
“We’ve seen one of our players attacked. He’s shook up, bleeding, angry.
“Bill was minding his own business off the pitch, trying to get our players away. He was blindsided, it was cowardly. He was knocked to the ground (and required) stitches, he was shook up.”
Nottingham Forest issued a statement apologising to Sharp, who played for Forest on loan in the 2012-13 season, and warning that the fan would be banned from the club for life.
It said: “Nottingham Forest Football Club are appalled to learn that our former player, Billy Sharp, was assaulted leaving the pitch after tonight’s match at the City Ground.
“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.
“The club would also like to apologise to Billy personally and to Sheffield United Football Club.”
Former Nottingham Forest defender Michael Dawson, who was a pundit for Sky Sports at the City Ground described the incident as “an absolute disgrace”.
He told Sky Sports: “Too many people run on the pitch, we’ve spoken about Forest having a special night but Billy Sharp was standing there doing nothing wrong. And one stupid fan runs on and does that has spoilt everything. I hope Sharp is OK.
“It happens every year at the end of a season when one team has disappointment and one team has joy, I worry for the opposition when fans run on. It only takes one situation for someone to be really hurt.”
The incident overshadowed Forest’s win, where the Reds’ victory secured a play-off final showdown against Huddersfield on Sunday, 29 May at Wembley Stadium and the chance of a top-flight return for the first time since 1999.