A Birmingham City fan has been jailed for attacking Aston Villa footballer Jack Grealish on the pitch.
Paul Mitchell, 27, pleaded guilty at Birmingham Magistrates’ Court to assault and a charge of encroaching on to the playing surface during Sunday’s derby match.
He was sentenced to 14 weeks in jail and given a 10-year football banning order. Birmingham City have already said the father of one will be banned for life from their stadium.
Grealish was punched by Mitchell less than 10 minutes into the live televised game at Birmingham’s St Andrew’s ground.
Despite the assault, the Villa captain went on to score the game’s only goal.
The court heard Mitchell decided to run on to the pitch for a “joke” and claimed not to have been drunk when he launched the on-field attack.
The pub worker, from Rubery in Worcestershire, allegedly told police he thought Grealish “was a k***”.
In a statement read to the court, the 23-year-old footballer said: “I cannot help but feel how lucky I was in this incident.
“It could have so much worse had the supporter had some sort of weapon.”
Prosecutor Jonathan Purser told the court that Grealish felt “lasting pain” but suffered no “substantial injury” from the punch to his jaw.
The footballer was surprised at how easily Mitchell was able to run on to the pitch, Mr Purser added.
Vaughn Whistance, Mitchell’s lawyer, told the court on Monday: “He cannot explain what came over him yesterday morning. His initial foolish intention was to just go onto the pitch and whip up the crowd.
“He has brought shame upon himself and his family… and the football club he has supported since he was a child.
“He apologises to Aston Villa and in particular Jack Grealish for his terrible behaviour.
“He is certainly remorseful today.”
Mr Whistance said that Mitchell’s family had been receiving abuse online after the incident and had been forced to move.
The defendant’s mother broke down in tears as she sat with his father in the public gallery during the hearing.
Passing sentence, magistrate Alison Fisher told Mitchell: “This type of behaviour is completely unacceptable – a view shared by your own football club.
“Players such as Mr Grealish are entitled to protection. We have therefore gone outside of our guidelines in the interests of justice.”
Mitchell was ordered to pay £100 to Grealish as compensation for the pain, discomfort and shock caused by the assault.
He was also told to pay a £115 victim surcharge and £135 in prosecution costs – and given a fortnight to pay the total sum of £350.
Meanwhile, a man has been charged with assault after an Arsenal fan ran on to the pitch at the Emirates Stadium and allegedly shoved Manchester United defender Chris Smalling.
Gary Cooper, a 30-year-old from Chertsey, Surrey, was arrested on Sunday and will appear at Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court in north London on Friday.
He has been charged with common assault and going on to the playing area, the Metropolitan Police said.