JOEY Barton will no longer be involved with the Queens Park Rangers first-team after yesterday receiving a 12-match ban from the Football Association.
The Premier League club has already launched its own internal investigation into Barton’s behaviour with manager Mark Hughes determined to wash his hands on the troublesome midfielder.
Barton has received the most severe sanction for an on-field incident in England since Eric Cantona’s kung-fu kick on a Crystal Palace fan in 1995.
The suspension, which relates to his sending off against Manchester City, on May 13, and subsequent reaction, means that Barton is not available again for QPR until November.
He will now be excluded from the club’s 25-man Premier League squad for next season if QPR cannot, as appears likely, sell him in the summer. The club is exploring every avenue with the hope that it might actually be possible to sack Barton for breach of contract or gross misconduct. He will be fined heavily.
If he does not leave in the summer window they QPR will make every effort for Barton to be sold in January. The club would like to reach a mutual agreement for his £80,000-a-week contract, which has three years to run, to be cancelled but this may prove impossible.
Barton received an automatic four-match ban for the initial elbow on Carlos Tévez that led to his sending-off. That punishment was then increased on Wednesday by a further eight matches for two counts of violent conduct, firstly for kicking Sergio Agüero and then an attempted headbutt on Vincent Kompany.
The total 12-match suspension dwarfs recent eight game bans for Luis Suárez after he was found to have racially abused Patrice Evra, and Ben Thatcher for a forearm smash on Pedro Mendes.
Barton personally attended Tuesday’s Wembley hearing with his lawyer Mel Stein and could still appeal the sanction. He had accepted the first count of violent conduct in relation to the Agüero kick but had denied the same charge for the Kompany incident.
A three-man independent regulatory commission, however, found that both charges were proved. “There are rules of conduct that should be adhered to, and such behaviour tarnishes the image of football in this country, particularly as this match was the pinnacle of the domestic
season and watched by millions around the globe,” said the chairman of the commission.
Gordon Taylor, the chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association, said on Wednesday night that his organisation had been in contact with Barton since the incident against City but that he had not taken up the offer of help.
There has also been annoyance at QPR over Barton’s subsequent Twitter reaction to the incident. He said that he did not think it was a sending-off and then claimed that, once he had been dismissed, one of his team-mates has suggested he “try to take 1 of theirs with me”.
Barton added: “Still not my proudest moment but who gives a f---, we are safe..........and that is all that matters. The head was never gone at any stage.”
Hughes had already decided before Barton’s latest act of indiscipline that the midfielder was not part of his plans and should leave for the good of the club.
QPR will examine the legal situation and are weighing up their options but chairman Tony Fernandes and chief executive Phil Beard are aware of Hughes’s thinking.
Hughes had wanted to take the armband from Barton during the season but eventually decided against it because he thought the 29 year-old would, potentially, be more disruptive. The events on Wednesday were the latest chapter in a long list of disciplinary incidents involving Barton.
In 2004, he was fined six weeks’ wages for stubbing a lit cigar in the of youth team player Jamie Tandy during Manchester City’s Christmas party.
In 2007, he was charged with assault and given a four-month suspended sentence after a training-ground fight with Ousmane Dabo. He was also jailed over a late night-incident in Liverpool city centre for which he received a six-month sentence after pleading guilty to common assault and affray.
He was transfer-listed by Newcastle last summer following a series of Twitter comments criticising the club. In addition to his 12-match ban, Barton was also fined £75,000 yon Wenesday for his behaviour in the Manchester City match.
“This eight-match suspension is to run consecutively to the four-game suspension Barton was already given for his dismissal in the fixture, making a total of 12 matches,” said an FA statement. As Barton had already been sent off, the two incidents that resulted in violent conduct charges fell outside the jurisdiction of the referee.
A charge of violent conduct generally results in a three-match ban but yesterday’s commission ruled that the incidents involving Agüero and Kompany were sufficiently serious to warrant a combined eight-game sanction.
Barton’s indiscipline could have cost QPR their place in the Premier League and, with the match 1-1 at the time of his sending-off, was surely a factor in Manchester City ultimately gaining the 3-2 victory they needed to beat Manchester United to the Premier League title.