A man has been charged with assault and entering the field of play by West Yorkshire Police after an incident during the English Premier League tie between Leeds United and Newcastle United on Saturday, the police force said in a statement.
A spectator walked towards the Newcastle technical area late in the match before confronting and then appearing to shove Newcastle manager Eddie Howe. The spectator was then quickly escorted away.
West Yorkshire Police’s statement said the man had been bailed and would appear before magistrates in July.
Leeds United said it had issued a lifetime ban on the spectator. “Leeds United can confirm that following an incident at our Premier League match against Newcastle United today, an arrest has been made and a lifetime ban has also been issued,” the club said in a statement.
The match ended 2-2 at Elland Road in Leeds, Yorkshire, leaving Leeds in the relegation zone and a point from safety.
In a press conference after the match, Howe called for the security of players and team staff at Premier League matches to be improved.
“I can’t remember whether he pushed me or not, I’ve got no idea, it was such a strange thing because you’re concentrating on the game. It’s not something you expect to happen,” Howe told reporters. “He confronted me, said something I can’t repeat and then he’s led away.”
“I’m ok…Moments like that do make you think. The safety of staff, players, is paramount for me at the Premier League, any matches in the football league, and we need to be mindful. I think security is so important.”
He added: “I don’t know if I had time to be fearful… It was over in a flash. Certainly, it makes you think ‘what ifs.’ I think it’s moments like this that should hopefully make people think and analyze things and see how we can improve safety for staff and players.”
When reached for comment, the Premier League referred CNN to a joint statement issued last month by the chief executives of the Premier League, the Football Association – English football’s governing body – the English Football League and the Football Supporters’ Association.
The statement made clear that any supporter going onto a soccer pitch without permission would be breaking the law and “putting the welfare of players, coaches, club staff and fellow fans at risk.”
At the start of this season, the statement said, new measures and stronger sanctions were introduced, which included automatic club bans and police action, to “tackle anti-social and criminal behaviours.”
Newcastle remains third in the league with hopes still high of finishing in the top four, which would secure a place in next season’s Champions League, Europe’s premier cup competition.