Monday 5 December 2016

Rangers agree to terminate Joey Barton's contract

Andy Newport

Published 10/11/2016 | 16:08

Rangers and Joey Barton have parted ways
Rangers and Joey Barton have parted ways

Rangers have finally pulled the plug on Joey Barton's ill-fated stint at Ibrox, announcing that his contract has been terminated.

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The controversial midfielder has not featured for the Ibrox side since being banished from the club following a furious bust-up with manager Mark Warburton in the wake of September's humiliating 5-1 defeat to Celtic.

Rangers said in a statement: "Rangers and Joey Barton have agreed to terminate his contract with immediate effect. Neither Rangers nor Joey Barton will comment further."

Barton's representatives met with Gers officials on Wednesday in a bid to bring the eight-week stalemate to an end, with a severance deal eventually agreed.

The Light Blues were desperate to offload the £20,000-a-week summer signing after watching his Ibrox switch turn sour.

The 34-year-old former Manchester City, Newcastle and QPR battler has not been seen in a Rangers kit since suffering that painful Parkhead pasting back on September 10.

Warburton gathered his shell-shocked squad together two days' later for a training-ground post-mortem, but it soon turned ugly as Barton launched into an explosive rant that saw him trade insults with both the manager and team-mate Andy Halliday.

The Gers boss was left furious when Barton refused to apologise for questioning his methods - specifically his acid-tongued criticism of Rangers' defensive set-up - in front of the first team.

The former Brentford boss decided a period of calm was required and told the former England international to stay away from the club's Auchenhowie training ground for a week.

But Barton stoked Warburton's fury further when he gave an unauthorised radio interview questioning his manager's handling of the initial fall-out.

His suspension was eventually strung out for eight weeks as Rangers chiefs examined whether they had grounds to sack him

The former Marseille midfielder also fell foul of the Scottish Football Association's strict betting rules. He faces a Hampden hearing a week on Thursday, but is only expected to receive a moderate punishment.

When it became apparent to Ibrox bosses that dismissal was not an option, though, Barton was allowed to return to training last Thursday.

But it was made clear he would not be rejoining Warburton's group as he was instead ordered to train with the club's under-20 team. Areas like the training ground gym were even ruled off-limits when the rest of the first team were present.

The soap opera did not stop there, though. On Tuesday it emerged Barton's return had lasted just one day before he was signed off with stress.

That was the final straw for the troubled Ibrox outfit, who are already 11 points behind Celtic just 12 games into the season, and Dave King's board have now finally agreed to part ways with their controversial marquee signing.

Barton is understood to be "devastated" that his Ibrox move has turned into such an unmitigated disaster.

He turned down a £35,000-a-week offer at Burnley, where he was named the Claret's player of the year after their triumphant SkyBet Championship campaign last term, in order to seal his switch to Glasgow on a two-year contract.

Never shy to give his opinion, Barton claimed he would prove himself to be the best player in Scotland, while also insisting he would dominate Celtic skipper Scott Brown when the two went head-to-head.

But he never came close to delivering on those promises in the eight appearances he made for Warburton's team.

He looked short of fitness after a rushed pre-season and was left chasing shadows as a Brown-inspired Hoops line-up ran amok in the first Old Firm derby of the season.

Despite failing to perform in Scotland, however, Press Association Sport understands Barton intends to kick-start his career as soon as the January transfer window opens - and is refusing to rule out a return to the English Premier League.

A return to Burnley appears to be his most likely move once the transfer window reopens. Turf Moor manager Sean Dyche has already admitted he is open to a reunion with the Liverpudlian after being asked about a possible move last month.

Despite the club insisting neither party would comment further, Barton soon took to Twitter to thank the Gers support he is leaving behind.

He posted: "I'd like to thank the supporters of Rangers for their incredible support during my time at the club. Wish you all the best for the future."

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