Newcastle suspends Barton after red card

Newcastle suspended Joey Barton two days after his sending off against Liverpool effectively ended his season and added to his reputation as a thug.

updated: May 06, 2009 07:33 IST
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Joey Barton's future in English football looked bleak on Tuesday after Newcastle suspended the volatile midfielder two days after his sending off against Liverpool effectively ended his season and added to his reputation as a thug.

Relegation-threatened Newcastle seems certain to show Barton the exit door at the end of the season with the midfielder sitting out the last three Premier League games with a suspension.

The club suspension came amid reports that he had an angry confrontation with manager Alan Shearer after the 3-0 loss to Liverpool and Barton had been sent off for a wild sliding tackle on Xabi Alonso.

Barton missed Newcastle's last three games against Middlesbrough, Fulham and Aston Villa with the Magpies 18th in the standings and three points away from safety.

The problem for Barton is that the foul on Alonso was just typical of a player who has accumulated a long list of fines and bans, has been to jail for assault in a street fight, punched a teammate's eye in training and pushed a lit cigar into a teenage teammate's eye at Manchester City's Christmas party.

Now ruled out of Newcastle's final games and unable to train with his teammates, Barton is left to consider his future and few clubs may take the risk of signing him.

Barton's temper has put him in trouble since his career started in 2003. He walked out just before kickoff after being left out of the Manchester City side and manager Kevin Keegan condemned him for causing a mass brawl in a preseason friendly at Doncaster.

After the Christmas party incident in December 2004, Barton had another row with a 15-year-old Everton fan in Bangkok and City fined him eight weeks wages. The following season, Barton dropped his shorts and exposed his backside to Everton fans and was fined for misconduct.

Although Barton wasn't involved, his family hit the headlines in December 2005 when his brother, Michael, was jailed for 17 years for his involvement in a racist attack in which a black teenager was killed with a mountaineering ax.

Just two years ago, Barton appeared to have straightened out his life and he even got a callup to the England team, going on as a substitute in a 1-0 loss to Spain.

But the bad behavior soon returned and he was arrested after a violent argument with a taxi driver. He was then suspended by Man City over the training ground incident with teammate Ousmane Dabo, which later led to a suspended jail sentence and the FA ordering him to miss six games.

Barton transferred to Newcastle in June last year but he was arrested in Liverpool after a street fight and eventually received a six month jail sentence for assault and fighting.

After his latest misconduct, there are calls for Newcastle to fire Barton and suggestions that he will struggle to find another club.

"With the situation the club is in, I think it is impossible for the crowd to accept this behavior," said former Newcastle striker Malcolm MacDonald, one of the Magpies fans' alltime favorite players.

"The guy has continuously bought Newcastle United into disrepute. It really isn't good enough. In the short time he has been at Newcastle, he has either been injured, in prison or in trouble. Enough is enough."

MacDonald said few of the top flight clubs would be interested in taking on a player with such a risky reputation.

"Just who would be prepared to take the midfielder on remains to be seen," the former England striker said. "There's always somebody in a hard-up situation who will take a chance and when they do, they will suffer for it dreadfully.

"What Joey Barton wants to do with his career is up to him, but I think he will find it very, very difficult to find employment in this country in football. Heaven help whatever club he does join."

The latest incident has created more negative headlines for a club which has been in disarray for much of the season.

Manager Kevin Keegan quit in September after disputes with owner Mike Ashley, who then tried but failed to sell the club, and temporary manager Joe Kinnear had to step down after he was taken ill. Shearer took over with eight games to go stressing he would be in charge only until the end of the season but has collected only two points from five matches.