The End Of The Road For Barton?

Posted on: 04 July 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves

Can a professional football club afford to keep hold of a player capable of bringing them into such disrepute?

Newcastle United midfielder Joey Barton was given a four-month sentence, suspended for two years this week, for savagely assaulting his former Manchester City team-mate, Ousame Dabo.

The 25-year-old Barton, who is currently serving a six-month sentence for an attack on a man in Liverpool city centre last December, beat Dabo unconscious in an "explosive combination of football and violence."

Barton's Timeline

2003 April: Makes senior debut for Manchester City

2004 February: First red card for Manchester City

2004 April: Storms out of City ground after being dropped

2004 July: Criticised by manager for sparking mass brawl in pre-season friendly game

2004 December: Stubs cigar into eye of team-mate Jamie Tandy at Christmas party (fined six weeks' wages)

2005 May: Involved in early hours road accident, injuring pedestrian

2005 July: Altercation with teenage fan during Asian tour (fined eight weeks' wages)

2006 September: Drops shorts in direction of Everton fans during game (police take no action)

2007 November: FA probe tackle on Dickson Etuhu after Barton's move to Newcastle but no action

2007 December: Describes Newcastle fans as "vicious"

2008 May: Jailed for assault

2008 July: Given four-month suspended sentence for attacking team-mate Ousmane Dabo.

Liverpool-born Barton punched his then colleague up to five times, leaving him unconscious and covered in blood on the ground.

He claimed he acted in self-defence but changed his plea to guilty just hours before a scheduled trial in Manchester.

The pair clashed after a simmering row during a training session on 1st May 2007.

Eyewitnesses recalled Barton getting on top of the player and repeatedly hitting him.

Their Manchester City team-mate Georgios Samaras said he had never seen such a violent incident on a football pitch in his entire career, stating he would "never forget it".

Dabo was treated in hospital for the effects of head trauma, an inflamed eye and bruised eyelids.

He also suffered from headaches for three weeks and missed several matches.

For this latest incident, he has also been ordered to carry out 200 hours community service and must pay £3,000 compensation to Dabo as well as footing the prosecution costs.

On sentencing him, Judge Mushtaq Khokhar said: "As a professional footballer you are someone who is talented and greatly idolised by young and old alike whether you are playing at Manchester City or now at Newcastle United."

"You are constantly in the public eye. You have a high profile, there would be instances of provocations ... being an idol brings with it responsibilities which you have to carry with you all the time." 

"You want to be setting an example, particularly to those who idolise you, particularly youngsters who look up to you."

Barton was sold by Manchester City to Newcastle United in a £5.8m deal last summer, signing a five-year contract on Tyneside.

Newcastle United said it planned to meet Barton to discuss his future but early indications show they may be willing to give him one final chance in football.

The midfielder could be released in the coming days and prior to Monday’s sentencing, agent Willie McKay said Barton could be back for pre-season training next week.

"We can't really say too much until Joey is released, but we will be sitting down and talking about his future," said McKay on Tuesday.

"He will be aiming to be back for pre-season training next week. But again, we will see what happens."

"Joey had a great end to the season and has kept himself in great shape."

"In fact, he is in the best shape I have ever seen him in and I think he will be fitter than anybody else."

But should these two incidents mean the end of his professional football career?

Barton, whose career has been strewn with cases of violence, is set to meet Newcastle officials when he leaves prison to discuss his future at St James's Park - possibly as soon as Sunday.

But can the club afford to keep hold of a player capable of bringing the club into disrepute? Or, after a £5.8m investment on the player last summer, can they simply not afford to let him go?

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