Newcastle are considering just what to do next with 25-year-old England international capped midfielder Joey Barton after his latest off-the-field antics cost him his liberty on Tuesday with a six-month spell behind bars for assault and affray.
Barton’s jailing came as a result of an incident in Liverpool on December 27, 2007 when he punched one man 20 times before leaving a teenage boy with broken teeth without provocation in what Judge Henry Globe QC described as a “violent and cowardly act”.
Had this been the first misdemeanour in Barton’s career then maybe, just maybe, he could be welcomed back to St James’ Park after his spell in prison and severely warned about his future conduct. However as many of us know Barton has a bigger reputation for what he does off the field rather than what he does on it.
The fun and games started in December 2004 when the then Manchester City starlet decided to stub a cigar out in the eye of former team-mate Jason Tandy at the club’s Christmas party and picked up a £6,000 fine for his troubles. Less than a year later in summer 2005 he was at it again this time brawling with a 15-year-old Everton fan in the Manchester City hotel during a pre-season trip to Asia. He was fined eight weeks’ wages on that occasion but was given another chance to prove his worth by then boss Stuart Pearce.
Barton seemed to take heed of that warning as it was not until September 2006 before he was quizzed by police for dropping his shorts at Everton fans following a City game at Goodison Park. The player even left City for Newcastle in a £5.8million deal last summer under a cloud as he was banned by the club following a training ground bust-up with his team-mate Ousmane Dabo, who was left unconscious and with a bruised eye.
Every time Barton has been in trouble he has apologised profusely for his actions and begged for forgiveness. And each time he has been given yet another opportunity to continue his career. Newcastle boss Kevin Keegan is reportedly ready to back the player simply because he was not in charge of the club when the incident happened and because he played well in the final few games of the season.
So what? Former Arsenal and England defender Tony Adams, who did learn from his two-month jail sentence for drink driving in 1990, helped set up the Sporting Chance clinic with Peter Kay to support sport stars deal with drink, drug and gambling addictions. They have thrown their support behind Barton once again following his jail sentence on Tuesday, but they have done that in the past and he clearly has not taken anything on board.
I say it is time Barton finally paid the price for his actions and was kicked out of the game for good. He serves no purpose as a role-model for youngsters except that it seems okay to act like a thug because no matter what he does, he always gets another chance to throw it back in peoples’ faces.
It is time Newcastle acted like the role-model and show the world there is no place for Joey Barton’s in football!