Joey Barton’s 18-month suspension for breaking football betting rules is the ultimate betrayal to his fellow professionals

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IT will be remembered as the ultimate betrayal.

Joey Barton shared a dressing room, swapped banal, boyish banter with some of the players he was backing to lose big football matches.

PA:Press Association

Joey Barton last turned out for Burnley, but has admitted his career could be over now

Mates, team-mates, friends: he could start by apologising to them, one by one.


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That is the biggest crime, far bigger than any of the bets that barely made a dent in the fortune he has earned from professional football.

Joey Barton has admitted placing bets on his old club Newcastle, when he was still contracted

PA:Press Association

Joey Barton has admitted placing bets on his old club Newcastle, when he was still contracted

Judging by the raft bets, perhaps the former England midfielder did not think that much of them anyway.

He argued that the compulsion, the urge, the addiction, the grip that takes hold of gamblers is to blame for his 18 month ban.

Maybe. But maybe not.

One day, when he tries to re-establish himself in the game as a coach, a manager, an analyst, or most likely reinvents himself as the answer to every ill and every woe in the world, he will come across some of his former team-mates.

The dressing room is supposed to be built on trust, with strong bonds developing between young, talented athletes determined to reach the very top.

By backing Newcastle to lose, Barton undermined it all.

Joey Barton speaks after winning Burnley player of the year 2016

Joey Barton has played for England - but will be remembered for things other than his international career

PA:Press Association

Joey Barton has played for England – but will be remembered for things other than his international career

He has lost the right to take part in dressing room culture after admitted placing 30 bets on matches involving teams he played for.

Overall, in a 13 year gambling career with online bookie BetFair, he placed more than 15,000 bets.

After the FA confirmed his year and a half long ban, Barton helpfully released details of his betting patterns over the years.

On some occasions he backed himself to score, or for his former club Newcastle to beat Stevenage in the FA Cup (they lost 3-1), or £600 to beat Fulham (they lost).

The really grubby stuff are the gambles on Newcastle to lose, such as the £300 he bet on Manchester United to beat the Toon Army in August 2008.

Remarkably, certainly against Barton’s odds, his team-mates drew 1-1 without him on the field.

In 2010 he laid out £500 on Chelsea to beat Newcastle in a Premier League fixture in November 2010.

By then Barton was a busted flush, losing his stake when Toon claimed a valuable 1-1 draw against London’s rich kids.

Joey Barton was rescued from his nightmare at Rangers by Burnley, and got Premier League football

PA:Press Association

Joey Barton was rescued from his nightmare at Rangers by Burnley, and got Premier League football

Most of the bets, along with the long losing streaks that went with them, does not say much for his acumen.

Still, Barton would have you believe has one of the finest brains in the game, as well as academia.

He is a sore loser, releasing an exhausting statement in an attempt to justify his reckless, feckless behaviour.

In the final analysis, very little of it stacks up.

He knowingly trained with his team-mates each day knowing that he had placed a few quid here and there on them to lose matches at the very highest level of the sport.

As he sought refuge yesterday, working out how the hell he would appeal the 18 month ban, he asked for a sympathetic ear.

He claims to have a medical condition, providing supporting evidence to the FA that he is gripped by a gambling problem.

The Burnley midfielder, rescued from Rangers after he fell out with the players and hierarchy at Ibrox, even made some recommendations to help FA guidelines.

Joey Barton insists Celtic’s 27 gap over Rangers has nothing to do with him

The Merseyside-born midfielder even spent a period of time at French outfit Marseille

PA:Press Association

The Merseyside-born midfielder even spent a period of time at French outfit Marseille

He was critical of the FA’s reliance on the income generated from commercial partnerships with gambling companies, with the relentless ads highlighted in his mea culpa.

Barton, for all his failing, is certainly right about that.

Those ads before games, at half-time and at full-time are a carbunkle that need to be lanced by the game’s governing body.

They are drawing people in to their web, with promises of cash-outs and immediate payouts for all manner of bets.

Others, not just Barton, will be gripped by this disease.

In the end, Barton’s reputation did for him.

This lengthy ban means he is unlikely to pull on a shirt in anger again.

Certainly he is a complicated character, a man with far more problems than anyone in the game could ever think they can solve.

Joey Barton scores winning free-kick for Burnley against Southampton

Even if his appeal is successful, nobody in professional football can ever trust the man again.

The FA’s regulatory commission have certainly made an example of him, sending a strong message out to fellow pros.

Football’s integrity, what is left of it after another day of scandals in our sport, must be protected by the game’s governing body.

The FA have clobbered him.
Barton knows that, with his various scrapes with authority counting against him in the final analysis.

If he had kept his nose clean over the years, if he had played it by the book in other areas of his life, he would have stood half a chance when the FA took an interest in his BetFair account.

Instead, it came back to haunt him.

He has never learned, no matter how articulate he tries to be on radio, on TV, on his website, or his twitter account with 3.2m followers.

The FA took into account some mitigating circumstances, such as his troubled past and his boundless energy to reform, when they delivered their ruling.

It was another Barton gamble, another attempt to pull victory from the jaws of defeat.

Sadly for him – and for the game itself – he just lost the biggest bet of his career.



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