Grealish attacked by fan in Birmingham-Villa clash

A man had to be restrained on the pitch after aiming a blow at Jack Grealish during Birmingham City's derby against Aston Villa.

Aston Villa midfielder Jack Grealish   -  Getty Images

Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish was punched around the head by a pitch invader in the early stages of the side's derby clash with Birmingham City at St Andrew's.

A man ran onto the field and aimed a blow at the attacking midfielder, who was jogging in the opposite direction, and seemingly caught him on the neck and jaw.

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Play was halted as stewards raced on to restrain the man before they led him to a nearby police officer, while players from both teams offered embraces to the 23-year-old.

Grealish last week returned from a shin injury that had sidelined him since early December and scored in a 4-0 rout of Derby County.

West Midlands Police later tweeted to confirm that a man has been arrested and is en route to a custody block "following the incident on the pitch involving an attack on an Aston Villa player".

EFL condemns attack

The EFL released a statement when the game was still in progress, with the governing body denouncing the "mindless actions" of Grealish's assailant.

It read: "The EFL condemns the mindless actions of the individual who encroached on to the pitch at St Andrew's on Sunday afternoon.

"It's a situation no player should ever be faced with.

"In all circumstances the playing surface is for players, not supporters and those playing in the game must be able to do so safe in the knowledge they will not be subjected to this type of behaviour.

"While this incident falls within the remit of the Football Association, we will work with all the relevant parties to address the issue of player and match officials' safety on the pitch and ensure the appropriate action is taken."

Birmingham issues apology

Birmingham also put out a strong statement at the end of the Championship fixture.

It read: "Birmingham City Football Club would like to apologise to Jack Grealish and Aston Villa Football Club for an incident in this afternoon's derby match.

"We deplore the behaviour of the individual who committed this act and rest assured he will be banned from St Andrew's for life. The club will also support any further punishment this individual may face in the eyes of the law.

"The club will be working with the relevant authorities to investigate all the circumstances and we will be reviewing our stadium safety procedures.

"What happened has no place in football or society. Jack is a Birmingham lad and regardless of club allegiance should not have been subjected to this – there are no excuses.

"Again, we apologise to Jack and all at Aston Villa Football Club."

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