A soccer fan has been sent to prison for 24 weeks for assaulting Sheffield United striker Billy Sharp at the end of a Championship playoff game against Nottingham Forest.
Robert Biggs, a 30-year-old electrical engineer and a Forest season-ticket holder, ran on to the field after Tuesday’s game at the City Ground and headbutted Sharp to the ground near the touchline.
Sharp, 36, who did not play in the match because of injury and was standing with his hands in his pockets, required four stitches to a wound on his lip.
The assault, carried out at full speed, caused outrage and has prompted the English Football League to consider what action it might take if there is a repeat.
It will consider possible sanctions over the summer, including ordering matches to be played behind closed doors.
Biggs was sentenced on Thursday at Nottingham Magistrates’ Court, where he pleaded guilty to an offence described by prosecutors as a “deliberate and senseless act of violence”.
“The video clip proves to me that you were running towards Billy Sharp and that you dodged all the other spectators to get towards him,” district judge Grace Leong said.
“I am of the view that it was a targeted act of aggression … even if it was not premeditated.”
The incident took place as supporters poured on to the field after Forest had beaten Sheffield United 3-2 in a penalty shootout.
The teams drew 3-3 on aggregate over two legs and Forest will now meet Huddersfield Town at Wembley on May 29 for a place in next season’s Premier League.
During the hearing, Biggs was told that a separate charge of illegally entering the playing surface had been dropped.
He did not oppose an application for a banning order from soccer matches.
Forest had already said that whoever attacked Sharp would be banned for life.
Sharp, a former Forest player, wrote on Twitter on Wednesday that “one mindless idiot ruined what was an unbelievable night of football”.
“As an ex-Forest player I will not let one scumbag ruin my respect for the Forest fans,” he said.
By Thursday afternoon, Forest fans had donated more than PS11,000 ($19,000) to a children’s hospice in Yorkshire nominated by Sharp.