Soccer fan gets 24-week jail sentence for assaulting player

NOTTINGHAM, England (AP) - A soccer fan was sentenced on Thursday to 24 weeks in prison for assaulting Sheffield United striker Billy Sharp at the end of the team's Championship playoff game against Nottingham Forest.

Robert Biggs, a 30-year-old electrical engineer who is a season-ticket holder at Forest, ran onto the field after Tuesday's game at the City Ground and headbutted Sharp to the ground near the touchline. Sharp, who did not play in the match because of injury and was standing with his hands in his pockets, required four stitches to a wound on his lip.

Biggs received his sentence at a hearing at Nottingham Magistrates' Court where he pleaded guilty to an offense described by prosecutors as a "deliberate and senseless act of violence.'ť

'œThe video clip proves to me that you were running towards Billy Sharp and that you dodged all the other spectators to get towards him," district judge Grace Leong said.

'œI am of the view that it was a targeted act of aggression ... even if it was not premeditated."

The incident took place as supporters poured onto the field after Forest won 5-4 in a penalty shootout. The teams drew 3-3 on aggregate after two legs.

During the hearing, Biggs was told that a separate charge of illegally entering the playing surface had been dropped. He did not oppose an application for a banning order from soccer matches.

Forest already said whoever attacked Sharp would be banned for life.

Sharp, a former Forest player, wrote on Twitter on Wednesday that 'œone mindless idiot ruined what was an unbelievable night of football.'ť

'œAs an ex-Forest player I will not let one scumbag ruin my respect for the Forest fans," he said.

Forest will play Huddersfield in the playoff final on May 29, with the winner earning promotion to the English Premier League.


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