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The Clumpany has been so royally entertained by the newspaper reports of Joey Barton heading back to Sevco following his ‘bust-up’ banishment, that I had to check whether Her Majesty herself hadn’t written the articles.
You will recall being given the impression that his dressing room altercation with Andy Halliday and The Warbmeister was so tasty – with besmirchment flying all over the place – that it might be fatal to Barton’s Sevco career. Having been exiled from Ibrox and the place-no-one-calls-Murray-Park-anymore for the best part of a week, Barton then found himself suspended for an eye-catching further three weeks.
To almost no one’s surprise, Barton hasn’t walked away and Sevco haven’t paid him off. And so the story is now focusing on the delicate nature of his return and what he might have to do to be accepted back into the fold (who knew Sevco was a piece of origami?!) and secure first team football.
My favourite piece on this matter was from Roddy Forsyth in the Telegraph. Although Roddy primarily focused on Barton’s SFA charges for allegedly placing 44 bets on football matches, he had some earnest things to say about Joey’s career prospects at Sevco:
“Joey Barton’s Rangers future looks increasingly in doubt after the Scottish Football Association charged him with 44 counts of betting on football between July and September this year.”
“If found guilty Barton could face a ban. Rangers’ action could be even more draconian.”
“These latest charges… are yet another in what quickly became a contentious sequence of events for the club’s marquee summer signing. Rangers are taking great care to comply with the provisions of employment law as it relates to Barton’s contract, which runs until June 2018.”
The Clumpany absolutely howled with laughter at Roddy’s deadpan account of Sevco taking great care to… errr… stay within the law! Something which should be a ‘given’. It is – after all – the minimum an employer should do, and the least an employee should expect. No matter who they are.
Perhaps Roddy somehow expected us to gasp with astonishment that things are so serious that Sevco are doing them in a lawful way. What next, Roddy? “World football rocked as Sevco speak to a solicitor”?
Whatever the case, Mr Forsyth’s interest in the law seems not to extend to company and insolvency legislation, because the latter parts of his piece contained a delicious slice of liquidation denial.
“Barton… could play for Rangers in Inverness on Friday Oct 14, the Ibrox side’s only fixture before the second Old Firm derby of the season, the semi-final of the Betfred Scottish League Cup at Hampden Park on Oct 23. When that bitter rivalry was resumed on Sept 10, in the first league meeting of the teams for four years.”
Elsewhere, Barry Ferguson popped up in his Daily Record ‘column’ to offer Barton some unsolicited advice:
“If I could offer him any advice it would be to plead for Mark Warburton’s forgiveness because if he can’t talk his way out of this then he’ll have to live with the regret for the rest of his life.”
I was in tears by the end of Barry’s emotional piece. Which was at least a change from the sense of utter bewilderment I felt after reading Derek Johnstone’s trademark sprawl in the Evening Shark-Jump.
As ever in DJ-land, Rangers* are a big club and when you are at a big club like Rangers* there are expectations to be met, and if they are met then something might happen, or something else might happen instead, but whatever happens everything with be good for Rangers*.
In short, DJ feels that Barton needs to show he is prepared to knuckle down and show some respect, and Warbo needs to believe him. And as for his relationship with Halliday:
“Joey and Andy Halliday would have had a right ding dong at training but I am told they then sat down and discussed it on their own and were fine. I think the squad will be fine if Joey does come back in.”
“Told” by whom, DJ? And for what purpose?! Let’s not forget what Chris Sutton recently had to say about your punditry…
To be fair to him, however, DJ did make a couple of valid points:
“Do you think Rangers will fork out nearly £2million and let him go? No, that is not going to happen. Unless he agrees to walk away, which I don’t think any player would when you consider the money involved, then Joey Barton is going to be staying there.
I don’t know if he has breached his contract and that could give Rangers a way to deal with him. But they can’t afford to have a player taking home a considerable wage each week and doing nothing for it.”
However, DJ neglected to ponder whether Sevco could afford the £2m even if they did want to wave Barton bye-bye…
Finally, it’s back to the Daily Record and today’s ‘exclusive’ news that:
“JOEY BARTON has spent the last 10 days in a boot camp in a Qatari desert in a desperate bid to salvage his Rangers career.
Record Sport revealed yesterday how the remorseful 34-year-old will return to the club’s training HQ on Monday morning for a make-or-break meeting with manager Mark Warburton, in which he will fight for his future after serving a month-long suspension.”
“Record Sport understands Barton has been training alone three times a day in temperatures tipping 100 degrees as he attempts to get back into top shape ahead of his return to Auchenhowie.
The former Manchester City midfielder is understood to have paid for the trip – to the world-renowned Aspire Academy – out of his own pocket as part of a determined effort to win back Warburton’s trust.
Barton hopes to finally bury the hatchet with his boss on Monday by proving he is sincerely sorry for the training-ground flashpoint as well as mentally ready to return to the first-team squad.”
This is impressive and respectful stuff which will surely delight The Warbmeister and see Barton continue to pick up his sizeable paypacket for many months to come. But the highlight of the Record’s account of the Liverpudlian’s travels was its opening line:
“He secretly left his family behind in Scotland”
Secretly?! What did he do? Tell them he was popping out for a pint of milk o̶r̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶p̶u̶t̶ ̶a̶ ̶b̶e̶t̶ ̶o̶n̶ and then slipped away to Qatar for ten days, hoping his nearest and dearest wouldn’t notice?!
Or perhaps the Record has unwittingly revealed Barton’s double life as a secret agent? Overrated 34-year old midfielder by day, Security service operative in the Middle East by night?
Whatever the truth, his secret activities can’t possibly be as hard to fathom as the secret of the MSM’s endless production of Sevco pish. That’s a very special form of alchemy in reverse…
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