FOOTBALL

Fan who punched Jack Grealish banned but how do we stop this from happening again?

It’s been an eventful footballing weekend but unfortunately not for the right reasons with a fan related incident in both a Championship and Premier League fixture.

Early on in yesterday’s Second City Derby, a fan was able to run beyond the line of security and punch Aston Villa midfielder Jack Grealish. Then, just hours later another fan pushed Manchester United’s Chris Smalling.

The question is, who’s to blame for these increasing acts of anti-social behavior and what can be done to put a lid on it? Is it as simple as improving security protocols and editing club regulations or is it a deeper issue?

In my view, the government needs to work closely with police, football clubs and stewards to ensure that clubs no longer fail to protect their players.

First of all, security surely needs to be tightened at football matches and that responsibility rests on the shoulders of the football clubs. You’ve got to question how the Birmingham fan made it past the security guards and found himself in a position whereby he was able to attack a player.

Nothing was stopping the attacker, who has been named as Paul Mitchell and since pleaded guilty, from carrying a knife or other weapon. Earlier this season, it emerged that the Manchester United supporter who ran on the Old Trafford pitch to hug Cristiano Ronaldo when Juventus visited in the Champions League had toy guns in his rucksack. This examples leads me onto my next point.

Nothing was stopping the attacker, who has been named as Paul Mitchell and since pleaded guilty, from carrying a knife or other weapon. Earlier this season, it emerged that the Manchester United supporter who ran on the Old Trafford pitch to hug Cristiano Ronaldo when Juventus visited in the Champions League had toy guns in his rucksack. This examples leads me onto my next point.

Not only should security in the grounds be improved, it should also be tightened on the gates. “Pat downs” are often not carried out and the ones that are certainly aren’t comprehensive. In 1993, tennis star Monica Seles was stabbed by a spectator during a quarter final match and if we’re not careful, eventually it’s inevitable that something similar will happen on the football pitch.

Security when it comes to terrorism is incredibly tight, so if larger venues can successfully stop terrorism, why can’t football matches be treated the same?

Much of the debate on social media since the incident has revolved around which sanction is fair and it’s splitting opinion left right and centre. Alan Shearer recently said on Match of the Day that he favours a point’s deduction and games to be played behind closed doors for Birmingham City as a way of sending a strong message towards anyone considering doing something similar.

In the end, Mitchell was sentenced to 14 weeks in prison and has since been banned from St Andrews indefinitely by the club.

Watch the video below to find out more regarding the incident…

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