STEVEN GERRARD believes long-term jail sentences are the only way to deter fans from invading pitches and attacking players after a series of high-profile incidents in recent days.

The Rangers boss warned that players could avoid Scottish football last week after a Hibernian supporter almost hit Celtic winger Scott Sinclair with a bottle.

And that shocking incident was followed by ugly scenes on Friday night as Ibrox captain James Tavernier was confronted by a punter that emerged from the same area of Easter Road.

The trouble has not been confined to Scotland, though, and the worst incident of this spate of attacks unfolded at Villa Park as Jack Grealish was floored by a Birmingham fan on Sunday.

There was also a pitch invader during Arsenals’ win over Manchester United and Gerrard has called for decisive action in the fight against such behaviour.

He said: “Unfortunately, they are going to get a lot of air time, a lot of back pages, front pages.

“It’s crazy really because you’re talking about two idiots, two thugs.

“I don’t really want to waste any time on them but unfortunately we have to speak about these things. We have been speaking about crazy stuff that has nothing to do with football for two or three weeks now and it’s getting a bit boring.

“You have to pay credit to James but also the way Jack Grealish behaved as well.

“Both of them were very, very professional and they deserve a lot of credit for that. It’s down to the authorities about punishment.

“The only way things these stop is to give severe punishment and make examples of them, proper examples. It would just plant that seed in every other idiot’s head not to do it moving forward.

“There will be regret when they are sitting in a room with a brick wall and a tiny window that doesn’t open and they’re in there for two, three four years. I think they would regret it then.

“When they do it, straight away they think they are heroes in front of their mates don’t they? I ran on the pitch and I’ve done this... blah, blah, blah. But then their mates don’t even come and visit them in the jail for two or three years because they realise that one of their mates is an absolute idiot.

“I’m not sure [why this is happening more]. I think there is always more of a chance of something happening in derby games as it’s more tense with the rivalry and emotions running that bit higher. But it’s difficult to give a reason as to why there have been two incidents in such a short space of time.

“I’m just really looking forward to seeing what punishment they get.”