Barton ploy against spirit of game
Published: 22.08.12 / Written by: David Gold
Joey Barton, if reports are to be believed, is to go on loan to Fleetwood Town.
From Queen’s Park Rangers. The drop is quite a steep one, even for a player whose reputation is as tarnished as Barton’s. But the logic is simple – a 12 match ban will be effectively reduced if he goes on loan, as it will mean Barton misses 12 games before QPR have played their first dozen Premier League matches.
Barton, remember, was given the severe censure, for a catalogue of misdemeanours at the end of QPR’s 3-2 defeat to Manchester City on the last day of the season, not least cowardly kneeing Sergio Aguero in the back of the leg.
It may be understandable for a player to seek to use a loophole such as this to avoid serving their full punishment if they were genuinely harshly treated. Luis Suarez, for example, was given an eight game ban on the back of exceptionally flimsy evidence, for allegedly racially abusing Patrice Evra. Suarez insisted he was not being abusive and there is little, if any evidence to prove that there was malicious intent to what he said. As it was, Suarez used racist language and that alone deserved punishment, but eight games was too harsh. Had he taken the Barton route and reduced the length of his ban, it would have been understandable.
Barton on the other hand is a serial offender, who has had more last chances than he deserves. QPR are shamefully keeping him on their books when they would be within their rights to have rid of him permanently. Newcastle kept him too long too. After what he did against, City, he fully deserved a 12 game ban.
QPR are acting fairly shamefully too if they go ahead with this. They stripped Barton of the captaincy and did not defend him, rightly, after his ban. To now help him reduce the length of time he is out for is hypocritical, as well as plain wrong.
If he gets around the punishment in this way the FA must act. The best solution would be to prevent a suspended player playing for a club he signs for until the end of his ban would have been had he not moved clubs. This could in theory be challenged at the Court of Arbitration for Sport as a double punishment, so perhaps the FA must legislate to ban a player playing in 12 matches they are eligible in for the team they were playing for at the time they were suspended. So in Barton’s case, his ban should really start when he returns from his loan at Fleetwood.
For now, it would be a good move were the FA to refuse to sanction the transfer on the basis that it is a quite obvious attempt at circumventing its rules. This would have the effect of maintaining the integrity of their disciplinary system, as well as ensuring Barton serves the penalty he deserves. Better still, they could ban Barton for a further period of time as an additional sanction for trying to avoid serving his punishment.
Whatever they do, it is imperative the FA act, and are seen to move decisively on this issue. A sporting competition is not worth its salt if its disciplinary procedures are manipulated in such an obvious manner.