The tumultuous career of Joey Barton looks finally to have come to an end after the controversial footballer was banned from the game for 18 months on betting charges.
Barton, who is registered as a player with Burnley in the Premier League, accepted Football Association charges that accused him of having placed 1,260 bets on football matches between 2006 and 2013. This figure included at least five matches in which he was a player. Professional footballers are banned from making any bets on their own sport.
Despite having admitted to the offences Barton, 34, plans to appeal against the length of his suspension and claims that there was nothing “untoward or suspicious” about his behaviour.
In a lengthy statement posted on his website Barton said: “The decision effectively forces me into an early retirement from playing football. To be clear from the outset here this is not match fixing and at no point in any of this is my integrity in question.
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“Having consulted with my friends and lawyers, I have decided I will be appealing against the length of the ban. I hope that I shall be afforded a fair hearing by an independent appeal panel. If I am, we are confident that the sanction will be reduced to a fair one that both reflects the offences as well as the mitigating factors and the fact that there was nothing untoward or suspicious about the bets I made.”
Barton returned to the Premier League only in January after five years’ absence. His career has taken in spells at six clubs including Manchester City and Glasgow Rangers and he also earned a solitary cap for England during the reign of Steve McClaren. But the Merseyside-born midfielder will be remembered as much for his misdemeanours as for his performances. In December 2004 he was fined six weeks’ wages for stubbing a lit cigar in the eye of a young team-mate during Manchester City’s Christmas party. In May 2007 he was suspended by the same club after a training-ground altercation which later led to assault charges for which he received a four-month suspended jail sentence. Later that year he was arrested in Liverpool city centre after a late-night incident and was charged with common assault and affray, and in May 2008 was jailed for six months. In May 2012 Barton was banned for 12 matches for violent conduct when playing for Queens Park Rangers.
“Throughout my career I am someone who has made mistakes and owned up to those mistakes and tried to learn from them,” Barton said in his statement. “I intend to do that here. I accept that this is one more mess I got into because of my own behaviour. This episode has brought home to me that, just as I had to face up to the need to get help to deal with alcohol abuse, and with anger, so now I need to get help for my issues with gambling, and I will do so.
“As for the scale of my football betting, since 2004, on a Betfair account held in my own name, registered at my home address and verified by my own passport, with full transparency, I have placed over 15,000 bets across a whole range of sports. Just over 1,200 were placed on football and subject to the charges against me. The average bet was just over £150, many were for only a few pounds.
“Raised at the hearing was that between 2004 and 2011 I placed a handful of bets on my own team to lose matches. I accept of course that this is against the rules, for the obvious reason that a player with an additional financial stake in the game might seek to change the course of it for his own personal gain. However I’d like to offer some context.
“First, in every game I have played, I have given everything. I’m confident that anyone who has ever seen me play, or played with or against me, will confirm that to be the case. I am more aware than anyone that I have character issues that I struggle with, and my addictive personality is one of them, but I am a devoted and dedicated professional who has always given my all on the pitch.”
Barton’s ban comes at a time when football has never been more closely intertwined with the gambling industry. Eleven of the 20 current Premier League sides wear the logos of betting companies on their shirts, while the Football League itself is sponsored by a gambling company. The growth in online or ‘remote’ gambling has meant that not just every match but most of the elements within them can now be gambled upon. Recent estimates at the amount of gambling losses accrued in the UK put the total at around £300 per person per year.
Marc Etches, who is the chief executive of GambleAware, the industry-funded body dedicated to the reduction of gambling harm, said of Barton’s statement: “Admitting you have a gambling problem is an essential first step towards fixing it. We welcome Joey’s statement and hope his openness will be seen as an example others feel they can follow. You don’t need to be a professional footballer to find help for what is a recognised mental health condition.”
Thirty ‘most pertinent bets’
At the end of his lengthy statement, Barton listed the 30 “most pertinent bets as determined by the FA”, laid while he was playing for Manchester City, Newcastle United and Queens Park Rangers:
Manchester City v Fulham (28 April 2006) Laid George Samaras not to score first goal £5 (Bet won – £10)*
Manchester City v Fulham (28 April 2006) Backed Joey Barton to score first goal £3 (Bet lost)*
Manchester City v Fulham (28 April 2006) Backed Manchester City to win £600 (Bet lost)*
Newcastle v Tottenham (24 September 2008) Newcastle to win £25 (Bet lost)
Newcastle v Sunderland (1 February 2009) Newcastle to win £5 (Bet lost)
Newcastle v Sunderland (1 February 2009) Newcastle to win 2-1 £2 (Bet lost)
Hull v Newcastle (14 March 2009) Newcastle to win £5 (Bet lost)
Hull v Newcastle (14 March 2009) Newcastle to win (as part of a bet involving other matches) £5 (Bet lost)
Forest v Newcastle (17 October 2009) Newcastle to win £22 (Bet lost)
Newcastle v Derby (28 December 2009) Newcastle to win (as part of a bet involving other matches) £50 (Bet lost)
Stevenage v Newcastle (8 January 2011) Newcastle to win £497.50 (Bet lost)*
Stevenage v Newcastle (8 January 2011) Newcastle to lead at HT and FT £250 (Bet lost)*
QPR v Rochdale (23 August 2011) QPR to win £25 (Bet lost)
QPR v Leeds United (1 March 2014) QPR to win as part of multiple bet £25 (Bet lost)
QPR v Leeds United (1 March 2014) QPR to win £250 (Bet lost) West Ham v Manchester City (15 April 2006) West Ham to win (Bet won – returns £53.60)
Newcastle v PSV (6 August 2008) Draw at HT and PSV lead at FT £30 (Bet lost)
Newcastle v PSV (6 August 2008) PSV to lead at HT and FT £5.65 (Bet lost)
Newcastle v PSV (6 August 2008) PSV to lead at HT and FT £24.35 (Bet lost)
Newcastle v PSV (6 August 2008) PSV to win £40 (Bet lost)
Newcastle v PSV (6 August 2008) PSV to win 1-0 £10 (Bet lost)
Newcastle v PSV (6 August 2008) PSV to win 2-0 £10 (Bet lost)
Newcastle v PSV (6 August 2008) PSV to win 3-0 £10 (Bet lost)
Newcastle v PSV (6 August 2008) PSV to win £81.67 (Bet lost)
Newcastle v PSV (6 August 2008) PSV to win £158.33 (Bet lost)
Manchester United v Newcastle (17 August 2008) Man Utd to win £300 (Bet lost)
Chelsea v Newcastle (22 November 2008) Chelsea to win £48 (Bet lost)
Newcastle v Chelsea (28 November 2010) Chelsea to win £500 (Bet lost)
Newcastle v Chelsea (28 November 2010) Chelsea to win (as part of multiple bet which includes singles and doubles) £350 (Bet lost on Newcastle but other part of bet paid as a win – returns £435)
Newcastle Reserves v Arsenal Reserves (9 March 2011) Arsenal to win £100 (Bet lost)
* Denotes matches in which Barton played.