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Man arrested on suspicion of assaulting Chesterfield captain during pitch invasion

Published 10/05/2015 | 18:00

PRESTON, ENGLAND - MAY 10: Fans invade the pitch in celebration as Preston North End are victorious after the Sky Bet League One Playoff Semi-Final second leg match between Preston North End and Chesterfield at Deepdale on May 10, 2015 in Preston, England. Preston win 4-0 on aggregate to reach the playoff final. (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)
PRESTON, ENGLAND - MAY 10: Fans invade the pitch in celebration as Preston North End are victorious after the Sky Bet League One Playoff Semi-Final second leg match between Preston North End and Chesterfield at Deepdale on May 10, 2015 in Preston, England. Preston win 4-0 on aggregate to reach the playoff final. (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)

A man has been arrested on suspicion of an assault on Chesterfield captain Ian Evatt during Sunday's League One play-off match at Preston, Lancashire Police have announced.

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Evatt reported that he had been "punched, kicked and spat on" as supporters invaded the pitch at the final whistle and on Monday he called for the Football Association to act, and Lancashire Police have now made an arrest in relation to the matter.

A statement from the force read: "Police investigating an assault on a Chesterfield player have arrested a man.

"The 20-year-old from Preston was arrested this morning (Monday, May 11) on suspicion of Section 47 assault and is currently in custody.

"Police are continuing to investigate the alleged assault on Chesterfield player Ian Evatt which followed an otherwise largely peaceful incursion onto the pitch at the end of the Preston vs Chesterfield match at Deepdale on Sunday, May 10. The player was thankfully not seriously hurt.

"Officers are continuing to try and identify anyone involved in the assault. They would like to thank those who have provided information so far and appeal for anyone with information or who witnessed the incident to contact police on 101 quoting log number 0835 of May 10."

Writing on his Twitter account yesterday, Evatt said: "To be attacked on a football pitch and fear for your safety is an absolute disgrace I was punched kicked and spat on several times #disgrace."

He then wrote: "Sky sported (sic) have given clear video footage to police and I hope those responsible are locked up !!"

PRESTON, ENGLAND - MAY 10: Jermaine Beckford of Preston North End holds off Ian Evatt of Chesterfield during the Sky Bet League One Playoff Semi-Final second leg match between Preston North End and Chesterfield at Deepdale on May 10, 2015 in Preston, England. (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)
PRESTON, ENGLAND - MAY 10: Jermaine Beckford of Preston North End holds off Ian Evatt of Chesterfield during the Sky Bet League One Playoff Semi-Final second leg match between Preston North End and Chesterfield at Deepdale on May 10, 2015 in Preston, England. (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)

Chesterfield assistant Leam Richardson also condemned the alleged scenes and insisted Evatt's previous allegiances with Blackpool were no excuse for what occurred.

"I think it's a disgrace personally," said Richardson.

"The game's played in a great manner and Preston have had a really positive result as a club. The rivalry, you can't underestimate that, but to lay hands on people as supporters and men is a disgrace. Ian's fine.

"He did not react, categorically not. He never reacted. He was surrounded by a few thousand but he's conducted himself very well.

"He's an emotional kid anyway, Ian, and he's disappointed with the outcome of the two legs. And you are disappointed with the outcome of one or two individuals."

Chesterfield also confirmed that Evatt had provided Lancashire Police with a statement following the game, while Preston had no comment.

Speaking to BBC Radio 5Live later in the afternoon, Evatt insisted more needs to be done to prevent pitch invasions for players' own safety.

"It's well reported I'm an ex-Blackpool player," he noted.

"After the final whistle the Preston fans invaded the pitch. I was gathered around by a couple of hundred fans at least, shouting abuse, spitting, I got hit and kicked a couple of times.

"(It was) more than pushing and shoving. I've reported it to the police, and Sky Sports have given the police the footage of the two guys who threw the punches.

"To be honest, it's so disappointing. How long will this go on for until there's a real serious incident? It's too easy for fans nowadays to invade football pitches. Something needs to be done about it. The more it goes on, the more likely there will be a serious offence and a serious injury to a player."

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