‘The players need protecting more than anything else’: David Cotterill claims police armed with GUNS at matches is ‘way forward’ after Jack Grealish attack
- Jack Grealish was assaulted by a Birmingham supporter on Sunday afternoon
- David Cotterill claims police should be armed with guns at football matches
- Former Wales international was heavily criticised for the idea on social media
Former Wales international David Cotterill has claimed police armed with guns is the way to combat the threat caused by pitch invaders.
It comes after Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish was assaulted during the Second City derby at St Andrew’s on Sunday and a man was arrested.
And Cotterill, who earned 24 caps for Wales and played for Swansea, Sheffield United and Wigan, believes extreme measures must be taken if football is to eradicate these instances from the game.
Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish was assaulted by a man during the Birmingham derby
He struck the midfielder in the head with his right hand from behind, knocking Grealish over
Former Wales international David Cotterill believes police armed with guns is the ‘way forward’
‘It’s a disgrace; very dangerous for the players because the pitch invader could have had a weapon or anything really, we need to stamp down on this as soon as possible,’ he told BBC Radio Wales.
‘The guy who ran on the pitch has gone there to cause havoc, not watch the football.
‘We need more security. I am not condoning guns at games but if the police are going to be armed, I think that is the way forward.
‘It needs to be top-end stuff, the players need protecting more than anything else.
‘Otherwise we are heading back to where we were years ago with giant fences… and that isn’t good for anyone who wants to enjoy the game.’
Social media users were quick to hit out at Cotterill’s views and admonished him for suggesting the use of weapons is the best means by which to stop these attacks in the future.
‘Guns are never “the way forward”,’ one Twitter user wrote. While another, Emma Holmes, replied saying: ‘What an overreaction! “GUNS, WE NEED GUNS!!” How about, better pitschside security…?’
Fans flocked to social media to hit out at Cotterill’s comments on BBC Radio Wales
A determined Grealish had the last laugh by picking himself up after the vile assault and scoring the match-winning goal in the second-half.
But the result was marred by the awful incident which occurred in the ninth minute of the game. Grealish, 23, fell to the floor but thankfully did not appear to be badly hurt. A steward, helped by both sets of players, then restrained the man.
Shortly after the incident Grealish scored what would end up being the match-winning goal and jumped over the hoardings to celebrate.
A steward restraining him appears to kick the Aston Villa captain and is later led away by police.
Sportsmail columnist Chris Sutton claimed jail terms were the only way to deter these thugs: ‘Lifetime bans are not enough,’ he said. ‘Jail sentences are the only way to deter these brainless individuals from entering the field and clashing with players.
‘It is desperately sad that our game has come to this. Off the field, things only seem to be getting worse.’
The ‘fan’ was eventually apprehended by stewards and players from both of the teams
Immediately after the incident, Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville added that football could see the return of fences in stadiums.
‘It’s not the club’s fault in some ways because, as you say it’s the village idiot you can’t stop him doing what he’s going to do,’ he said.
‘But as a deterrent for the future there has to be a huge punishment for Birmingham City for that.
‘Because in the future if any fan thinks they can just get a five-match ban or a season ban… We’ve seen horrific incidents in other sports where fans have been attacked more seriously than that.
‘If that comes into football we’ll have fences round the ground again. I think that’s a really serious problem that needs nipping in the bud and the club needs to take a huge punishment.’
Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville said similar incidents could lead to the returning of fencing
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