Birmingham fan who punched player on pitch jailed for 14 weeks

A Birmingham City fan who punched Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish on the jaw after invading the pitch has been jailed for 14 weeks.

Paul Mitchell, who pleaded guilty to assault and pitch encroachment, blew kisses to Blues fans as he was led away by stewards following the attack in the ninth minute of Sunday's Birmingham Derby.

The 27-year-old pub worker and father-of-one, from Rubery, Birmingham, has been banned from attending matches for life by Birmingham City.

Passing sentence, magistrate Alison Fisher told Mitchell: "This type of behaviour is completely unacceptable – a view shared by your own football club.

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Jack Grealish attacked on the pitch
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Jack Grealish attacked on the pitch
A man believed to be a Birmingham City supporter ran onto the pitch during the Championship clash with Aston Villa and punched midfielder Jack Grealish in the face.The supporter was seen live on television running onto the pitch and hitting Grealish from behind in the head, before being dragged away by security.The disgraceful incident came in the ninth-minute of the Second City derby at St Andrews, and leaves Birmingham facing a Football Association investigation for failing to control their fans.West Midlands Police have confirmed that a man was arrested following the incident and has been taken into custody.A post on the West Midlands Twitter account read: “ARREST: Following the incident on the pitch involving an attack on an Aston Villa player; a man has been arrested and en route to a custody block. Further details to follow.”Grealish did incredibly well to keep his composure and not react to the assault, and his teammates Glenn Whelan and Tammy Abraham initially confronted the attacker before thinking better of retaliating, with security eventually apprehending and removing him from the pitch.And fate would have a fresh twist in the 67th minute when, of all people, Grealish rifled in a low left-foot shot from the edge of the penalty area to beat goalkeeper Lee Camp and put Villa ahead.> You could not write it! 😲 > > After being punched by a fan in the first half, Jack Grealish opens the scoring for Aston Villa against Birmingham! 🙌 pic.twitter.com/EiBedIL2U1> > — Soccer AM (@SoccerAM) > > March 10, 2019The 23-year-old celebrated by leaping into the away end to join the Villa supporters, where he lost a boot and received a yellow card for his efforts.As he left the field, the man celebrated to the Birmingham City fans and blew kisses to the supporters before being passed on to police.The incident drew a number of shocked and concerned messages from past and present footballers astonished at what they had seen.Manchester City and England midfielder Raheem Sterling wrote on Twitter: “Idiot of the year…congrats on your lifetime ban.”> Idiot of the year... congrats on your lifetime ban https://t.co/ocr8RBVzWZ> > — Raheem Sterling (@sterling7) > > March 10, 2019West Ham midfielder Declan Rice wrote on Twitter: “Absolutely disgraceful what just happened to Jack Grealish.”Stoke City midfielder Charlie Adam said: “Twice in three days we’ve seen players attacked by supporters, what is going on? Football needs to stamp this out quickly. Only a matter of time before someone is seriously hurt.”> Absolutely disgraceful what just happened to Jack Grealish😡> > — Declan Rice (@_DeclanRice) > > March 10, 2019Cardiff City’s Harry Arter, on loan from Bournemouth, added: “Would love to see Grealish to score the winner!!”
Riesen-Eklat beim Birmingham-Derby in der englischen Championship: Im Spiel zwischen Birmingham City und Aston Villa rannte ein Fan in der 10. Minute auf das Spielfeld und attackierte Villa-Kapitän Jack Grealish von hinten.Der Mann, der eine Mütze trug, schlug Grealish von hinten gegen den Kopf, bevor er von Sicherheitskräften überwältigt werden konnte. Der 23 Jahre alte Villa-Kapitän ging zu Boden. Der Randalierer wurden anschließend an die Polizei übergeben und abgeführt. Der Mann warf, während er abgeführt wurde, Kusshände ins Publikum.Die Polizei von West Midland erklärte via Twitter, sie habe im Zuge der Attacke auf Grealish einen Mann festgenommen. Ob es sich um den Täter handelt, ist noch unklar.Grealish konnte trotz der Attacke weiterspielen.
Aston Villa midfielder Jack Grealish was punched in the face by a pitch invader during Sunday's English Championship (second-tier) derby match at Birmingham City.
Le jeune milieu de terrain d'Aston Villa Jack Grealish a été lâchement attaqué par un supporteur lors de la 36e journée de Championship.
Soccer Football - Championship - Birmingham City v Aston Villa - St Andrew's, Birmingham, Britain - March 10, 2019 Aston Villa's Jack Grealish sits on the floor as the fan that attacked him is restrained by a steward and Aston Villa's Glenn Whelan Action Images via Reuters/Carl Recine
BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - MARCH 10: Jack Grealish of Aston Villa celebrates after scoring his sides first goal during the Sky Bet Championship match between Birmingham City v Aston Villa at St Andrew's Trillion Trophy Stadium on March 10, 2019 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)
A fan is held is held after attacking Aston Villa's Jack Grealish (left) Birmingham City v Aston Villa - Sky Bet Championship - St Andrew's Trillion Trophy Stadium 10-03-2019 . (Photo by David Davies/EMPICS/PA Images via Getty Images)
A fan is held is held after attacking Aston Villa's Jack Grealish (left) Birmingham City v Aston Villa - Sky Bet Championship - St Andrew's Trillion Trophy Stadium 10-03-2019 . (Photo by David Davies/EMPICS/PA Images via Getty Images)
A fan attacks Aston Villa's Jack Grealish on the pitch (right) during the Sky Bet Championship match at St Andrew's Trillion Trophy Stadium, Birmingham. (Photo by Nick Potts/PA Images via Getty Images)
BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - MARCH 10: A fan is escorted off the pitch after striking Jack Grealish of Aston Villa during the Sky Bet Championship match between Birmingham City and Aston Villa at St Andrew's Trillion Trophy Stadium on March 10, 2019 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images)
BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - MARCH 10: Jack Grealish of Aston Villa is helped up by Lee Camp and Michael Morrison of Birmingham City after colliding with a pitch invader during the Sky Bet Championship match between Birmingham City and Aston Villa at St Andrew's Trillion Trophy Stadium on March 10, 2019 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images)
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"Mr Grealish has stated that he was shocked and scared and feels lucky that it wasn't worse. Players such as Mr Grealish are entitled to protection. We have therefore gone outside of our guidelines in the interests of justice."

Chairwoman of the bench Ms Fisher and another magistrate ordered Mitchell to pay £100 to Grealish as compensation for the pain, discomfort and shock caused by the assault.

Mitchell was also hit with a £115 victim surcharge and £135 in prosecution – and given a fortnight to pay the total sum of £350. He was also handed a 10-year football banning order by the court.

In a statement read to magistrates from Grealish, who went on to score the winning goal in Sunday's game, he said: "I cannot help but feel how lucky I was in this incident.

"It could have been so much worse had the supporter had some sort of weapon."

Birmingham City v Aston Villa - Sky Bet Championship - St Andrew's Trillion Trophy Stadium
Screengrab of Mitchell attacking Aston Villa's Jack Grealish on the pitch (Sky Sports/PA)

Speaking after the assault at St Andrew's – and a separate incident in which Manchester United defender Chris Smalling was confronted by a fan on the pitch – former England striker Alan Shearer warned players' lives could be at risk unless the authorities take urgent action.

"It is absolutely disgusting and if we don't stamp it out now, next time it could be a knife," Shearer said in his column in The Sun.

"It's that serious. Where are we at in football when some thug thinks that is what he is going to do?"

Meanwhile, a fan who ran onto the pitch at the Emirates Stadium during Sunday's match between Arsenal and Manchester United and pushed United defender Smalling has been charged with common assault.

Gary Cooper, 30, from Chertsey, Surrey, has also been charged with pitch invasion and has been bailed to appear at Highbury Corner Magistrates' Court on March 26, the Metropolitan Police said.

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