Sheff Utd boss Paul Heckingbottom slams the decision to charge Oli McBurnie and Rhian Brewster over the playoff semi final incidents.
The manager says he is ‘really disappointed’ with the news that the duo have been charged following his side’s encounter against Nottingham Forest at the City Ground.
The pair voluntarily engaged in interviews with Nottinghamshire Police in the aftermath of the defeat, which saw a pitch invasion from home supporters at full time.
Sheffield United’s Oli Mcburnie stamping on a forest fan 😱 pic.twitter.com/AfKuoS0nMf
— Football Fights (@footbalIfights) May 18, 2022
Club captain Billy Sharp was also the victim of assault, with one fan charging full speed at the player, knocking him to the ground.
The club, in a statement posted on its website, said: “Sheffield United Football Club is disappointed to learn that Rhian Brewster and Oli McBurnie have been charged following the incidents that took place at the EFL Championship play-off semi-final second leg against Nottingham Forest last month.
“Both players voluntarily engaged in interviews with Nottinghamshire Police in the aftermath of the fixture which saw their team-mate, Billy Sharp, the victim of assault in the chaos which followed the final whistle.
“Brewster and McBurnie strenuously deny the charges brought against them and football manager Paul Heckingbottom, who wrote letters to the League Managers’ Association, the Professional Footballers’ Association, the EFL and FA following a number of pitch invasions last month – including one involving Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira – is continuing discussions with key stakeholders in a bid to better protect players and staff in their place of work.”
Forest fan headbutts Sheffield United’s billy sharp pic.twitter.com/vQ98GP4YNu
— Football Fights (@footbalIfights) May 17, 2022
Speaking to local media at the club’s training complex today after returning for pre-season, Heckingbottom said: “As a club and personally, really disappointed. Obviously, we knew the questioning was ongoing.
“We all saw the situation. I have written to the EFL and LMA about protecting their members. This is not me speaking about Nottingham Forest or Nottinghamshire Police, this is me talking about football in general, there were incidents all over the place and we can’t let that happen again.
“I have written about that protection to your members. Also to the EFL and the FA as governing bodies. I think that’s important.
“If anyone sees any incidents like that again next season someone should be losing their job, definitely. It’s foolish and unsafe.
“I am looking at the man hours, the expense all this ongoing, why not put police round the pitch? It’s cheaper, we would not have had anyone attacked, would not have someone in prison and would not have two professional athletes having to go through it again.”
A man was jailed for 24 weeks for assaulting Sheffield United captain Sharp during the pitch invasion.
NFFC season-ticket holder Robert Biggs, from Ilkeston, Derbyshire, admitted assault occasioning actual bodily harm which left Billy Sharp requiring four stitches to a wound to his lip.
He was jailed at Nottingham Magistrates’ Court in May and Biggs appeared in court in custody, not opposing an application for a football banning order during the hearing.
Fans reacted as the Sheff Utd boss slams a decision to charge McBurnie and Brewster over May’s playoff incidents…
@AxeMUFC: Mcburnie crossed the line 100% didn’t see what brew did
@mason_tweet: Pulled down/dragged over the lad who mcburnie kicked/stamped, from behind. Was awful from everyone concerned. All sides.
@McLovin04690027: Paul heckingbottom writing letters about the safety of players after throwing a ball at spence when they were 2-0 down is a joke 🤣🤣
Disappointed they wasted so much money and have nothing to show for it?
Disappointed their players were caught behaving like thugs?
Disappointed they hadn’t disciplined the players themselves?
@TJBH: Don’t stamp on people. Even if provoked. It’s quite simple.
@MyDesireIs_: The salient facts here are that the guy was on the ground and McBurnie had absolutely no need to be on the pitch. Be very interesting to see how he can credibly claim self-defence.
@TJBH: The whole thing including build up has been captured on video. There is no way to defend it as a proportionate measure of self defence, even if provoked.
@1889bladette: well forest should get fined for not controlling their fans also stewards should get warned or even sacked cause it was disgusting what happened that day… The fans shouldn’t be in pitch in 1st place… brewster was sticking up for team mate .oli fell over fan
“someone should lose their job.”
Like McBurnie, hopefully.
@allip75: Absolute joke of a decision
@LucasHiggsy: If there’s no fans on the pitch then this doesn’t happen. Can’t fault players for reacting back when they’re getting assaulted on the pitch
@DrMellie: If there is no beer in the pub, than my drink driving doesn’t happen. Can’t blame me for getting behind the wheel pissed, when they sell gallons of beer at the pub.
@Joelbirmz12: Vieira needs charging then
@anders_blades: Fans invaded the pitch illegally and our players get charged.
@Hayden_PFC: From an outsider looking in your boys did nothing wrong, joke.
@jcw_72: Can we charge the EFL, for not being fit for purpose ? 😬
@BlademarkSUFC: Well done @nottspolice what a waste of time & effort
@bosstrade: Stamp on people and you’re disappointed they’ve been charged 🤣 Really???
@shipman15_tim: Mcburnie was an animal.. he can’t exactly get out of it as it’s on film… he deserves it 💯
@HalTheBlade: Dangerous precedent. I suppose it’s easier to charge 2 footballers in their place of work rather than hundreds of pitch invaders.
@MartyKBlade: Are you saying a constabulary of HM’s finest would rather take the easy option of trying to convict 2 employees at their place of work than the 100’s who were actually breaking the law? How very dare you.
@FrankieMott_xo: Good. The fan who attacked billy was charged and given a 6 month sentence behind bars. That boot that McBurnie had one, are quite heavy. So stamping on someone whilst wearing those is not acceptable. Assault is assault regardless. The fan was charged, therefore McBurnie should be
@TrickyTreesDave: Why was the injured player’s even on the pitch? They had no more right to be on it than the fans, no excuses for stamping on a fan either.
@LouisCharlton10: Can’t be moaning about the pitch invasion, absolutely inevitable in a home win to get to Wembley at any ground. Would have been the exact same at Bumhole Lane if the 2nd leg was there and Utd had won on penos. The Forest fan got his punishment for assault and so should these pair
@philipbackhouse: What charges have been brought against @NFFC and their fans for the pitch invasion, apart from the obvious assault on Billy? @EFL @FA
@FlewittClint: Quite strange that the club are disappointed.. one threw the lad to the ground the other stamped on him.. dreadful statement by the club.. both players had to volunteer after being Identified.. its doesn’t show innocence.. good of the club not to condemn violence.. great work
@OzNFFC: Forest fans unanimously against the fan who attacked Billy Sharp, while blades fans try to defend their players who did just as bad. Says a lot about the fan bases.
@MarsdenMatthew: Shame @SheffieldUnited feel being charged for committing assault is disappointing. Regardless of other incidents, the club should put emotion/personal opinion to one side for the purpose of having the right morales & values for the community and supporters they represent #NFFC
— Alfie (@SykeseySUFC) June 23, 2022