Barton given free transfer after bust-up
Newcastle yesterday placed troublesome midfielder Joey Barton on the transfer list following a dressing-room bust-up with manager Alan Pardew after Sunday's friendly defeat at Leeds.
Barton is understood to have vented his anger at team-mates and manager Alan Pardew after the Magpies' poor performance in the 3-2 defeat at Elland Road, swearing and shouting at them before storming out and on to the team coach.
Once on board, he aggravated a combustible situation by hinting on Twitter at widespread dressing-room discontent at the direction in which the club is heading and warning of an impending relegation battle.
Newcastle responded yesterday by putting Barton on the transfer list and telling him he could negotiate a free move to another club.
Barton then insisted that he wanted to stay at St James' Park for the remaining year of his contract, despite the hostility between him and the club's hierarchy.
Responding via Twitter, he said: "Somewhere in those high echelons of NUFC, they have decided I am persona non grata.
"I am on a free but the honour of wearing those black and white stripes surpasses that. One day the board might realise what the shirt signifies. Honour and pride. Thanks for your continued support."
Pardew is in a difficult situation. Barton was one of his best players last season, but he admits the former Manchester City player is difficult to manage and this latest twist will not make him any easier to control.
If a move does not materialise immediately, Pardew must decide whether to continue selecting a player who has been a vocal critic of the board and the club's transfer strategy -- and who has now also questioned the manager's authority -- or freeze him out of the first team.
Barton is unlikely to stay quiet whatever he decides.
Although there has been some tentative interest in the Liverpudlian over the last few days, there have been no bids. The decision to make him available on a free transfer may be designed to firm up that interest.
Stoke, Aston Villa and even Arsenal may consider signing the 28-year-old, although his £56,000 wages would pose a problem.
Managing director Derek Llambias had already clashed with Barton this summer, withdrawing a new contract offer back in May after months of acrimonious negotiations, and it seems his patience finally snapped.
Llambias even contemplated terminating Barton's contract, which has a year to run, although that would have meant paying his wages for the next 12 months in a lump sum.
It is the second time in a week that a Newcastle player has criticised the board on the social networking site.
Defender Jose Enrique, who is edging towards a move to Liverpool as the clubs get close to agreeing a £6m fee, attacked officials for a lack of ambition and lying about their contract offer.
Barton's stance has split supporters. Some have complimented him on attacking the board's parsimonious approach and its failure to spend the £35m received for Andy Carroll in January on new players.
Others, though, are angry with a player who has only justified his own high opinion of himself in one out of four seasons following a £5.8m move from Manchester City in July 2007. Barton's previous three years were soured by injuries and a loss of form, as well as a six-month jail sentence for assault in 2008. (© Daily Telegraph, London)