Football Association vows action after pitch invasions mar Birmingham and Arsenal games
By Sky Sports News
Last Updated: 11/03/19 4:03pm
The Football Association says 'a line has been crossed' after the weekend saw incidents of pitch invasions at Birmingham and Arsenal.
During Aston Villa's 1-0 win at St Andrews, captain Jack Grealish was struck by a pitch invader - Paul Mitchell - who pleaded guilty to assault and was sentenced to 14 weeks in prison on Monday.
A matter of hours later on Sunday afternoon, another man invaded the pitch in Arsenal's 2-0 win over Manchester United at the Emirates, and has now been charged with common assault after appearing to push United's Chris Smalling.
The FA has now promised to examine security measures in place at both games as well as what steps can be taken to avoid repeats of such unsavoury incidents in the future.
"This weekend a line has been crossed in terms of fan behaviour," a statement from the FA read.
"On Sunday we saw two separate incidents, at Birmingham City and Arsenal, of individuals entering the field of play and assaulting players.
"Not only is it an offence to enter the pitch, which could result in a club ban and criminal charges for the individual, but it also puts the safety of the players at risk. This is entirely unacceptable and we strongly condemn both incidents.
"We will be working with the clubs, the leagues and the police to discuss what collectively needs to be done to protect players and officials on the pitch.
"In addition, we have written to both Birmingham City and Arsenal to seek their observations and examine the security measures they had in place."
The issue of pitch invasions has also been prominent in Scotland where a supporter was charged after confronting Rangers captain James Tavernier during their 1-1 draw with Hibernian at Easter Road on Friday.