Football urged to protect players after fan punches Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish
• Aston Villa captain attacked during derby with Birmingham
• Man is arrested following incident early in St Andrew’s match
Football is facing urgent calls to improve player safety after the Aston Villa captain, Jack Grealish, was assaulted on the pitch by a spectator in the latest among a rash of troubling crowd-related incidents in recent weeks.
Grealish was punched from behind by a pitch invader, ostensibly a Birmingham City fan, in the ninth minute of the Championship derby at St Andrew’s. The assailant was arrested and Grealish, who was uninjured, gathered himself to score the only goal of the game after half-time. But the matter is unlikely to end there, with Birmingham’s role in the incident coming under particular scrutiny and concerns growing about a wider trend of violence at football matches across the UK.