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“I don’t see why it takes four weeks [to resolve the situation]. It’s not good for the players or the fans – they want to know what’s going on.” [Barry Ferguson, Daily Record, 19 September 2016]
Fair play to Barry. His comments on Sevco’s suspension of Scotland’s Player of the Year 2016-17 were bang on the (non-EBT) money. Why is it taking so long for Sevco to decide what to do about Barton following his training ground ‘bust-up’ with Halliday and Warbo?
Yes, he is now facing an SFA charge over alleged betting on football, but as I said in a previous blog, the punishment for that (if found guilty) is likely to be modest and not something that would ordinarily terminally affect a player’s employment at a club, or indeed a ‘club’.
Perhaps the ‘club’ is still working through the terms of a settlement which could result in Barton leaving? Perhaps no one at the holding company – which deals with financial matters and can be liquidated – is answering the phone to the ethereal ‘club’ to approve it? Perhaps the ‘club’ can’t actually even pick up the phone to make that call as they have no physical real-world presence?
Alternatively, maybe Sevco are simply hoping that Barton will walk away? Or maybe they don’t have the funds to pay him off and are dithering about their next steps?
Whatever the case, this morning’s statement from Sevco (hallelujah, a Sunday statement!) seemed rather odd. Barton has been suspended for another seven days and told not to return until… errr… further notice.
PA sport subsequently reported that it could cost Sevco around £2m to pay up Barton’s contract.
The Clumpany was particularly taken by the opening lines of the Press Association piece, as quoted by the Independent:
“Rangers face having to pay off the remainder of Joey Barton’s £2million contract if they cannot find grounds to sack him”
If they cannot find grounds to sack him?! Surely either there are grounds, or there are not? The PA’s choice of words conjured up an image of the statute book being forensically scoured in order to find something helpful!
The Clumpany will be fascinated to see how this saga pans out. I have been greatly amused by some of the media – especially the Daily Record – being wrong-footed by the latest developments. After all, it was only a couple of days ago that we were told how Barton was knuckling down at a training facility in Qatar ahead of talks with Warbo on Monday…
And today’s piece by Michael Gannon in the Sunday Mail was all about Joey’s return tomorrow:
Even Record columnist Barry Ferguson was caught out by developments. In an echo of his playing career, Barry has been all over the place in relation to Barton’s future at Ibrox.
On 24 May 2016, Barry’s column was titled
…and included the following:
“People talk about him being a fiery character and it’s true. We had some cracking battles.
But don’t fall for this idea he’s just a scrapper because I can tell you Joey can play a bit as well. It’s something that can be forgotten at times when the more controversial stuff is in the headlines. He’s great with the ball at his feet and knows how to run a game. But you know you are in a fight when you are up against him and that’s exactly what Rangers need next season.
They’ve been lightweight in the middle but Joey will bring that bit of steel. It just shows you Rangers’ ambition these days. It’s a big statement. Celtic made one of their own with Brendan Rodgers coming in and I’m sure he will be given money to spend this summer.”
“But what a major message it sends out. When you chuck names like Niko Kranjcar in to the mix it proves Rangers mean business.”
[*Pause to allow you to chuckle*]
On 19 September 2016, following Barton’s altercation with Halliday and Warbo, the Record ran a piece titled
… and it included these quotes:
“I don’t see a way back now”
“I’m disappointed because I was excited when he joined Rangers. I thought he would have been a great signing, but I don’t think he’ll play again.”
“Rangers would have known that Joey is an opinionated guy. That’s part and parcel of Joey Barton. First, he’s a really good player; second, he likes to have his say.”
So that appeared to be that…
But then on 7 October 2016, as the end of Barton’s suspension neared, Barry’s column was titled
It was in this moving piece that Barry revealed who might be lined up to replace Barton if and when he leaves Sevco. And the news has got the Sevco fan base VERY excited indeed. Because the player in question is a very hot Italian prospect.
Admittedly, he’s an ageing ‘prospect’: After all, the lad actually speaks latin. Nevertheless, he is a continental star who promises to dazzle the SPFL for a mere fraction of Barton’s wages.
His name is Mea Culpa…
To be fair to Barry, he didn’t specifically name Mea. Barry is too on-message to risk trampling on the toes of Sevco’s PR machine. However, the subtle hints were there for all to see. And they were dropped in a truly epic bleat-fest about Barry’s personal regrets. Specifically, over the manner of his departure from international football and the late Rangers Football Club following the infamous ‘boozegate’ incident and his v-sign salute to the media from the Scotland bench.
Barry’s latest column began by suggesting that Barton should beg Warbo for forgiveness or he might regret it for the rest of his life. [WARNING! Do not read on unless you have a handkerchief to hand…]
“THE world will feel a lonely place for Joey Barton right now.”
“My ban lasted only two weeks. But they were the most painful two weeks of my life because deep down I knew my time at Ibrox was over.
On Monday morning Joey will walk back through those doors to discover his own fate. And my only hope is that he comes back from his suspension and recovers in a way I knew I never would. 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.
For me the end was Boozegate and even now it sends a deep sense of embarrassment shivering through my body. It changed my life forever.
No sooner had it ended my Scotland career than Walter Smith was dragging me into his office and suspending me for a fortnight. But I could tell from the look in his eye that I was finished as a Rangers player too.”
“I was done at Rangers. There was no point in kidding myself on. When I had looked in Walter’s eyes I could see his disgust. It was over.”
“My biggest worry was that no-one else would touch me. I was damaged goods.
Who would want to bring me into their dressing room after all the embarrassment I had caused the entire country?”
“I just stared out of my window in silence and tried to think things through. For the first time in my life, I examined myself as a person and I didn’t like what I saw. It wasn’t just the Scotland thing either. I thought back through my entire career and all the mistakes I had made.”
“And that’s what I wish for Joey too. Like me, he’ll be wondering if anyone else will ever take a chance on him again. I hope that man is Warburton. I hope on Monday the manager gives him the same shot at redemption that Big Alex [McLeish at Birmingham City] gave me.”
It’s absolutely heart-rending stuff, isn’t it? It’s just a shame that Barry ran out of space to express regret about EBTs, side letters and Rangers’ warping of Scotland’s national sport for many years. Now THAT really is something to regret.
Maybe Barry will cover it in his next column?
Some cynics suggested that Barry’s latest column and an interview with the BBC which covered similar ground represented an attempt to set the record straight and clear the air just in case any ‘big’ management vacancies arise in Glasgow in the near future. And failing that, a vacancy at Sevco. However, I think that is a very cynical point of view. I am confident that Barry was simply moved by Joey Barton’s current predicament.
As indeed are we all.
Be sure to look out for the Daily Record bringing us the definitive account of Barton’s extended Sevco suspension in the coming days. And do keep an eye open for their exclusive interview with Mea Culpa… I suspect it won’t be conducted in Latin. But it may well contain an awful lot of gibberish.
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