Ex-Fifa official on Sheffield United star potentially 'going to jail' as Oli McBurnie news confirmed
Sheffield United and Oli McBurnie could prompt a major change in how football grounds are policed and player safety is ensured, according to Keith Hackett.
Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, the ex-Fifa and Premier League referee delivered his verdict after McBurnie was cleared of assaulting a fan who had invaded the pitch after Sheffield United’s loss to Nottingham Forest in the play-off semi-final last season.
The Blades released a statement last week (16 December) welcoming the decision.
They also revealed that Paul Heckingbottom has written letters to the FA, the EFL, the LMA and the PFA calling for players to be better protected.
“The home club have to provide a safe environment in which players can work,” Hackett told Football Insider correspondent Connor Whitley.
“That’s an employer’s role. That would be the same in any industry and it’s no different in football.
“For me, I was surprised that a charge was forthcoming on this. I really thought ‘What is this all about?’
“I really think Sheffield United have every right to challenge the process and raise the issue, hopefully, of the safety of players in a game.
“What was that spectator doing on the field of play? That spectator has already broken the law.
“The evidence that has been produced has absolved the player. When you look at it though, here’s a professional player, his family and his club that have gone through a great deal of pressure wondering what’s going to happen. Was he going to receive a fine or even go to jail?
“It’s incumbent on the clubs here to say ‘Right, we need to do more’.
“I think it should be a turning point. We’ve seen a reduction of police at grounds and they’ve been replaced by trained stewards and it’s broken down.”