Paul Merson says Jack Grealish incident 'worst I've seen in England'
Speaking on The Debate, Merson calls for "bigger sentences" after fan attack on Grealish; Dion Dublin says only time will tell if punishment was correct
Last Updated: 12/03/19 8:10am
Paul Merson says the incident in which a fan attacked Jack Grealish was the worst he has ever seen in England, as he and Dion Dublin discussed on The Debate what the right punishment for such an offence should be.
Paul Mitchell, 27, of Rubery, was jailed for 14 weeks on Monday and given a 10-year banning order from all stadiums after running onto the pitch and attacking Aston Villa captain Grealish in Sunday's derby game at Birmingham.
There has also been talk of actions the FA could possibly take against Birmingham as a club, although Merson was adamant that points deductions and playing behind closed doors are not the way to go.
"It was the worst I've seen on the football pitch. Sometimes abroad, you see people coming through and kicking players or the ref, but in England, I haven't seen anybody do that before," he told The Debate.
"It has to be bigger sentences, because some people will swallow seven weeks in prison for hero status.
"You can't start closing stadiums. Clubs can't be punished for someone's stupidity all the time. There are good people in those stadiums and good people who own the clubs. They can't be punished for one silly, silly person.
"I keep hearing about the points. When you take points off someone and you say 'take two points off them', it's not just two points because if a team gets relegated because of that, a lot of people lose their jobs.
"It's like when a team gets relegated and people say 'oh don't worry, they'll be back next year' - they might be back, but the people working behind the scenes might not be back. They're losing their jobs.
"Don't punish working class people, by punishing them for someone who has made an unbelievable mistake, otherwise we might as well all play behind closed doors and ask people to watch it on the telly because clubs can't afford to have anyone in their ground."
Dublin - who took part in a Second City derby as a player - says only time will tell if the prison sentence will act as a deterrent, as he gave his view as an ex-pro on what a player could do.
"The only way to stop it 100 per cent is to put fencing in, although that wouldn't be fair to the 99 per cent who are spot on. Do you give bigger fines? Or ban him for life completely at all football venues and give him a bigger sentence?" said the former Villa striker.
"If you've got individuals who go onto the pitch and want to do something wrong and dangerous, put him in prison. If you go over the white line, you go to prison. We don't know what's going to happen now, but if it doesn't happen again, it was the right sentence.
"As a player, if you see someone running towards you, you forget about being a player and you become a human being. For me, if someone comes running towards me and I can tell by his aggressive nature that he's after me, either I run away or you have to protect yourself.
"And if it's a point where you have to protect yourself, you've got to do it. What do you do, take it on the chin and say 'oh you'll get a ban for that'? You've got to protect yourself because it's dangerous."