The man who assaulted Aston Villa star Jack Grealish during Sunday’s Second City derby has been issued a lifetime ban from St. Andrew’s, Birmingham City announced.
Grealish was struck on the side of his head less than 10 minutes into the fixture after the man eluded security and ran onto the pitch.
The midfielder’s second-half goal proved to be the winner as Villa went on to record a 1-0 victory.
West Midlands Police confirmed that the suspect was in custody before Birmingham issued an apology to Grealish and Aston Villa after the final whistle, and confirmed that the fan will no longer be permitted to attend matches at St. Andrew’s.
Birmingham City Football Club would like to apologise to Jack Grealish and Aston Villa Football Club for an incident in this afternoon’s derby match.
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 Football Club.
In a statement, Aston Villa labeled the assault as “cowardly” while stressing a player’s personal safety should never be in jeopardy while they’re on the pitch.
Aston Villa Football Club is appalled by the disgraceful attack on Jack Grealish during today’s game.
A red line has been crossed by this cowardly on-field assault on a player, which is unprecedented in English football.
We trust the perpetrator will feel the full force of the law and the authorities investigate the circumstances surrounding today’s deplorable incident.
Local rivalries are part of the fabric of the game however, as we are sure our friends at Birmingham City would agree, to have a player’s personal safety placed under such jeopardy is a serious cause for concern for the entire football community.
The English Football League condemned the actions of the individual while insisting that the safety of players should never be compromised by such security breaches.
An EFL spokesperson said: “The EFL condemns the mindless actions of the individual who encroached on to the pitch at St. Andrew’s on Sunday afternoon.
“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 Football Association, 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.”
After giving his side the lead, Grealish appeared to be the victim of yet another assault. Stewards separated players and supporters before an attendant was seen being led away by police for appearing to use excessive force on Grealish.
Sunday’s victory gives Villa a one-point advantage over their Midlands rival.