It was another shameful night for football as Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira was filmed kicking an Everton smug fan to the ground at Goodison Park while Swindon players were reportedly attacked by Port Vale fans celebrating their playoff semi-final victory.
It follows a series of ugly scenes at English football matches this week with Nottingham Forest fan Robert Biggs being locked up yesterday after admitting headbutting Sheffield Utd striker Billy Sharp after their teams clashed on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Sharp’s colleague Oli McBurnie is facing accusations he stamped on a Forest fan’s head during their pitch invasion and has been told to speak with police investigators.
Other matches that saw disgraceful behaviour this week include Northampton’s playoff clash with Mansfield where Cobblers fans threw a flare at opposition players after confronting them on the pitch while Luton boss Nathan Jones said he had been abused as Huddersfield fans ran on to celebrate their team’s win on Monday.
The week’s events have led football bosses to threaten clubs with sanctions in an effort to curb the disgraceful behaviour of fans which have plagued the game this week.
In the Premier League, Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira is facing an FA investigation after appearing to kick out at a fan on the night Everton celebrated securing their Premier League status.
Footage emerged of Vieira seeming to lash out at a home supporter who was part of a mass pitch invasion following the Toffees’ 3-2 comeback win on Thursday night.
The fan who was involved seemingly posted a video of the incident on Twitter with the footage showing someone putting a middle finger in the face of Vieira, who then reacts.
Asked about the incident after the match, Vieira said: ‘I’ve got nothing to say about that.’
Thousands of jubilant Everton supporters who had seen their side secure Premier League survival invaded the pitch following the match.
Patrick Vieira appeared to be involved in an incident with a fan after the 3-2 defeat to Everton
Fan footage shows a supporter making an obscene gesture in the face of Vieira
A visibly angry Vieira then turns to face the supporter who had got in his face on the pitch
The Palace boss first seemingly palmed off the fan who had been goading him on the pitch
Vieira then appeared to kick the supporter before other Everton fans stepped in
Vieira was targeted as he attempted to walk across the pitch following his side’s defeat
Vieira, unaccompanied by staff or security, made his way across the pitch towards the away dressing room which is housed in the Park End car park as a result of Covid protocols.
Footage on Sky Sports showed the fan goading Vieira with what looked to be obscene gestures and the angry Palace boss reacted by lashing out, first with his hand before kicking the individual who had approached him.
Vieira was then seemingly shoved by another Everton fan before others stepped in to ensure the 45-year-old could leave the pitch safely.
Speaking on Sky, pundit Dion Dublin criticised the conduct of the fans and suggested he did not blame Vieira for responding.
‘We know how overjoyed the Everton fans are but you can’t be doing that. You can’t be pushing managers and pushing players, touching players and shouting in their faces,’ said Dublin.
‘We know it is only one or two who spoiled it for everyone else. Having fans on the pitch is not the way forward. We need to stop letting fans, or allowing fans to get on the pitch. It is too dangerous.’
Everton manager Frank Lampard offered his support to Vieira following the incident.
‘I feel for Patrick because I didn’t get to speak to him at the end because of how it all erupted for us,’ he said.
‘Of course, he is running across the pitch of 80 yards across a lot of our fans, so it is not easy. But there were no issues that I know of.
‘If done in the right way, I am happy for fans to stay on the pitch and enjoy it. As long as everyone is behaving and we don’t see scenes like we did the other night, let them have their moment. It’s what football is all about. Are we going to handcuff them to their seats? As long as they behave, no problem.’
Everton manager Frank Lampard offered support to Vieira after the match but said he had no problem with way fans behaved
Lampard suggested he had no problem with pitch invasions as long as fans ‘behaved’ after their victory on Thursday night
Sheffield United’s Billy Sharp was headbutted by a pitch-invading Forest fan on Wednesday after their clash with Forest
It comes comes just hours after Sheffield United’s Billy Sharp was jailed after he headbutted by a Nottingham Forest fan following a pitch invasion.
Robert Biggs, 30, of Derbyshire, was jailed for 24 weeks and also handed a 10-year football banning order after pleading guilty to assault at Nottingham Magistrate’s Court yesterday morning.
The Nottingham Forest season ticket holder was one of hundreds of fans to invade the pitch following his team’s victory over Sheffield United on Tuesday night, which was won in a penalty shoot-out.
The court heard how he had consumed ‘a quantity of alcohol’ before carrying out the ‘senseless act of violence’, which the judge said demanded a custodial sentence.
District Judge Grace Leong told Biggs that he would serve half of the 24-week sentence and ordered him to pay £500 compensation to Sharp – who earns £12,000 per week – as well as a £128 surcharge and £85 costs.
In a video, Sharp, who was left needing stitches, can be seen falling to the floor after being headbutted by Biggs following the Championship semi-final second leg play-off at the City Ground.
Clubs have been threatened with stadium bans after Nottingham Forest’s pitch invasion led to violent scenes on Tuesday
The judge told Robert Biggs (pictured, left, in police mugshot and right) that he would serve half of the 24-week sentence and ordered him to pay £500 compensation to footballer Billy Sharp, as well as a £128 surcharge and £85 costs
Biggs was charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm and going on to the playing area at a football match.
The latter charge was dropped and he did not oppose an application for a football banning order during Thursday’s hearing.
The incident prompted football chiefs to threaten sanctions for clubs where fans behaved in a disorderly or violent manner following matches.
If they are promoted, Nottingham Forest risk being forced to play their first Premier League game this century before a reduced capacity as a result of the incident after Tuesday’s play-off semi-final at the City Ground.
Meanwhile, Sheffield United striker Oli McBurnie has reportedly been told to attend a meeting with Nottinghamshire police or be arrested after shocking footage emerged of him appearing to stamp on a pitch-invading Nottingham Forest fan.
McBurnie, 25, has denied the stamp on Twitter but according to Sky Sports News, he will be arrested if he doesn’t attend voluntarily.
The disgraceful clip, posted by Twitter user @brokenkingmusic, seems to capture the fan in question falling to the ground before McBurnie comes in with a furious stamp as he lays helpless on the floor.
After the Scotland international is pulled away by one of his colleagues, the fan then slowly returns to his feet at the end of the video.
McBurnie seemed to lashed out at the fan after United’s playoff defeat against Forest and has been asked to speak with police
Northampton fans reportedly threw a flare towards Mansfield players after their playoff defeat on Wednesday night
Ugly scenes: Two home fans broke onto the pitch at Sixfields after Mansfield got the better of their side on Wednesday
Security soon intervened when the supporters made a beeline for Mansfield players at the League Two clash on Wednesday
Despite being accused of stamping on the fan, McBurnie has denied doing so and instead suggested he was trying to step over him on the floor.
He endorsed a post on Twitter which read: ‘Wish that @oli_mcburnie video was in full context – looks more like he was trying to step over him with one bad leg! Could be wrong!’
McBurnie replied to the tweet with a ‘100’ emoji, indicating he agrees with that version of events.
The following night, on Wednesday, Northampton fans invaded the pitch and reportedly threw a flare towards Mansfield players after their defeat in the League Two playoff semi-finals.
The Cobblers were unable to overturn a 2-1 deficit in Wednesday’s second leg at Sixfields Stadium, instead losing 1-0 on the night and crashing out with a 3-1 aggregate defeat.
Yet a couple of their supporters did not take the elimination well, with two home fans somehow getting past stewards and onto the pitch before making a beeline for Mansfield stars.
One appeared to confront Stags striker Jordan Bowery, while The Sun are reporting that a flare was even thrown at the visiting side.
As well as the ugly scenes at Goodison Park on Thursday, pitch-invading Port Vale supporters appeared to punch Swindon players following their League Two playoff semi-final victory.
Port Vale fans appeared to punch Swindon players (bottom right) after their League Two playoff semi-final
But a pitch invasion after the game turned sour when Swindon players were attacked
What should have been a night to savour for the Port Vale ended in disgrace when home fans invaded the pitch to celebrate their victory and then appeared to throw punches towards crestfallen Swindon players.
Sky Sports cameras captured the moment Vale fans became embroiled in an altercation with opposition players on the pitch, with punches seemingly thrown during the melee.
Jack Payne, Ben Gladwin and Jake O’Brien appear to have be the three Swindon stars targeted by the fans, before security soon intervened to pull them away from the trouble.
Sky Sports pundit Danny Gabbidon said: ‘What we’re seeing now, those stewards really need to get the Swindon players down the tunnel and away from some of these fans.
‘Some unsavoury scenes we never like to see. Some Port Vale fans goading those Swindon Town players who are reluctant to get off the field of play.
‘Harry McKirdy was escorted off quickly as a few Port Vale tried to get to him. Unsavoury scenes which will mar a fantastic night for Port Vale.’
Swindon boss Garner said after the match that he and his players felt ‘afraid for their safety’ as the opposition’s fans punched and kicked the Robins on the pitch.
Garner also said: ‘What they have had to put up with coming off that pitch… players have been physically and verbally abused.
‘I know I’ve seen it in some of the other play-off games, I don’t know where we’re going as a country it’s absolutely disgusting.’
Thousands of fans invaded the pitch after Everton secured their Premier League survival
Dominic Calvert-Lewin scored the winning goal on a memorable night at Goodison Park
Calvert-Lewin was pictured in the middle of the pitch invasion after his vital header
Lampard revelled in an ‘incredible night’ as his side guaranteed their Premier League place
There were jubilant and joyous scenes in the Everton dressing room after the 3-2 victory
Swindon right-back Mandela Egbo took to Twitter to lambast Vale fans after the invasion, accusing them of throwing punches but only managing a ‘scratch’.
Along with a selfie which shows a scratch on his nose, Egbo wrote: ‘How you scummy fans get two free shots and only manage a scratch?
‘And I’m supposed to keep my cool – if I react I’m the bad guy right?’
In response to the series of violent incidents, EFL have chiefs threatened clubs with stadium closures and points deductions on Wednesday night, saying in a statemen after the trouble at Forest: ‘We recognise this lawlessness is being conducted by a small minority of individuals and the majority attending matches are a credit to their club.
‘However, it is not acceptable for fans to enter the field of play at any time given the EFL’s objective is to ensure our matches remain safe and welcoming for all.
‘This summer we will consider what further measures are at our disposal, including the potential use of capacity reductions or similar mitigations. Punitive action will follow for those who continue to disregard ground regulations and break the law at matches.’
After Jack Grealish, then at Aston Villa, was punched by a fan at Birmingham in March 2019, the FA warned of increased penalties. Martin Glenn, chief executive at the time, wrote: ‘The FA has the power to take disciplinary action for spectators or unauthorised persons encroaching on to the pitch. In addition, we will be looking into what further action may be necessary going forward.’
Under FA Rule E20b, clubs face anything from a warning through to stadium closure and points deductions if found guilty of failing to take adequate action.
The PFA said: ‘We are shocked and appalled. Security and fan disorder need to be reviewed, and we will be raising player safety with clubs, leagues and the UK Football Policing Unit. There is no place in football for this.’