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Birmingham fan jailed for 14 weeks for Grealish attack

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Paul Mitchell, a 27-year-old from Rubery in Worcestershire, ran onto the pitch 10 minutes into the second-tier Championship match at Birmingham’s home ground of St Andrew’s.

In the process, he hit Aston Villa captain Grealish from behind.

Mitchell admitted charges of assault and encroachment on to the pitch.

Grealish was unhurt in the attack and went on to score the winning goal for Aston Villa in the second half of the local derby.

The incident at Birmingham was one of two ugly scenes in English football on Sunday.

The other happened in London, where a fan at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium got onto the pitch and shoved Manchester United defender Chris Smalling.

“This weekend a line has been crossed in terms of fan behaviour,’’ the English Football Association (FA) said in a statement.

“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.’’

The FA said it had written to both clubs to ask them to examine their security arrangements.

“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,’’ the FA said.

Grealish said he was glad nothing more serious had happened.

“I cannot help but feel how lucky I was in this incident,’’ he was quoted as saying.

OLAL

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