A suspect has been taken into custody after the on-field attack on the Sheffield Wednesday goalkeeper during Friday's derby match with Leeds at Hillsborough.
Several fans rushed out of the away end following the visiting side's second-half equalizer, with one supporter running up to the home keeper and shoving him in the face. The former Liverpool man required medical attention after the incident, which was broadcast on live television.
Gloucestershire Police confirmed on Sunday that the man was arrested in Cheltenham. A spokesman said: "The investigation is being led by South Yorkshire Police. The man currently remains in police custody."
Fans took to Twitter to help police identify the attacker; however, the assault on Kirkland was not the only unpleasant incident during the 1-1 draw. Sheffield Wednesday boss Dave Jones, who was cleared of child abuse allegations in 2000, was the target of several chants and songs throughout the game and says that tough sanctions must be taken to stop it happening again in the future.
"I heard a guy on the radio say I get well paid and it's football banter," Jones told BBC Radio 5 Live. "That's not football banter, I've had that for 12 years off them [football fans].
"He was a hero, he ran in the crowd, they were slapping him on the back, so what do you do about that? It's not one person. In this country we seem to end up going with the minority all the time and it's going to take the majority to sort it out and you've got to police your own clubs.
"Do you know what needs to happen? The people that go to the games that are disgusted - and it's going to be hard - they are the ones who should walk out and isolate the people there who are doing it or point out who are doing it."
|"Every club has got these fans and it's got to start at the very top. ... There shouldn't be any way whatsoever that people should be allowed to run on the field of play"
- Neil Warnock
Leeds manager Neil Warnock also condemned the behavior by his club's supporters, declaring, "Every club has got these fans and for me it's got to start at the very top now. We know the lad who assaulted him, and he's got to go through the courts and they've got to make it detrimental. It's all right saying 'go in and get them out' but you've got to be there. It's frightening for stewards - I wouldn't want to be a steward.
"There shouldn't be any way whatsoever that people should be allowed to run on the field of play.
"Dave said he could have had a weapon, and the other good point Dave made at the time was what happened if he [Kirkland] hadn't have got up? He'd made his three subs, what would have happened then? There would have been an absolute riot.''
The Football Association is presently investigating the matter.