Queens Park Rangers captain Joey Barton has spent much of this season in the spotlight, not for his football, but for being known as one of the most controversial players in the Premiership.
Often described as a dirty player, Barton chose to show his true colours at one of the most crucial games of the whole year, when QPR went head-to-head with Manchester City. After elbowing Carlos Tevez, Barton was shown a red card following on from referee Mike Dean being filled in on the incident by the linesman.
The QPR captain then went on to argue with the referee before kneeing City player Sergio Aguero in the leg. Next he aimed a head-butt at City captain Vincent Kompany. Eventually he was escorted off the pitch by QPR officials.
This sort of behaviour is not an uncommon occurrence for Joey Barton. In 2010, back when he played for Newcastle United, Barton punched Blackburn Rovers player Morten Gamst Pedersen in the chest.
Incidents like this have clearly attributed to footballers being stereotyped as thugs. It creates negative associations with the game and causes an unfair prejudice view for some, against the sport.
In May 2008, Barton was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment for assault. However he only served 77 days of the term. Along with this he was also given a four months suspended sentence for admittedly causing ‘actual bodily harm’ to former teammate Ousmane Dabo. Despite all this, Barton is still in the game.
Signed to QPR in August last year with a four year contract, he is rumoured to earn a staggering £80,000 a week. Not a bad wage for somebody who conducts himself so unprofessionally.
After such a disgraceful lack of conduct, it is now the job of the FA to analyse what happened. It is likely his actions will lead to a long suspension, a decision that would surely be backed by many.
The world of twitter was alight with opinions of the incident, with @GoonerTalk saying: ‘Joey Barton shouldn’t be allowed to play professional football ever again. How many chances has he had now? Disgraceful.’
Barton has also caused controversy by voicing his personal opinions on twitter. His offensive remarks towards the cast of The Only Way Is Essex sparked an argument with James Argent and Mark Wright. Barton said in an unprovoked attack : ‘Some decent people (at the awards) to be fair @lucyhart an @example. Just for the record the TOWIE helmets were there, all of them together. FREAKS’.
Clearly feeling no remorse for his vile behaviour, after being sent off he tweeted: ‘Can do nothing but apologise to the players and the fans. Still don’t think its a sending off. Tried to take 1 of their players with me. Still not my proudest moment but who gives a f***, we are safe……….and that is all that matters.’ Charming.
As a captain, it is hard to understand how he could let down his team down on a day like today. With their chances of staying in the Premier League already in danger, he selfishly risked the outcome with his violent conduct.
Barton is another example of the sort of player who has total disregard for his actions. As a footballer in the Premiership, he is undeniably a role model to aspiring players all over the world and a terrible one at that.
After countless chances to prove himself, surely this should result in serious consequences? Whatever the outcome of the FA’s decision, one thing is certain: Joey Barton will be known for his actions in this pivotal match for the rest of his career.