Burnley midfielder Joey Barton has returned fire on the FA after it banned him from all professional football activity for a period of 18 months with immediate effect for breaching Rule 8 of its code of conduct, by placing wagers on a number of football matches.
Writing on his website, Barton commented: “I think if the FA is truly serious about tackling the culture of gambling in football, it needs to look at its own dependence on the gambling companies, their role in football and in sports broadcasting, rather than just blaming the players who place a bet.”
This afternoon FA governance published a statement detailing that its investigation had found the 34-year old footballer to have placed 1260 bets on a number of “football matches and competitions” over a period of 10-years.
Barton’s betting activity was in clear breach of ‘FA Rule E8’ which prohibits any professional footballer, referee, coach or club official to bet on ‘the result, progress, conduct or any other aspect of, or occurrence in, football matches or competitions (FA ‘Rules of the Association’)
Following a review by an Independent Regulatory Commission, Barton was issued his suspension sentence and further fined £30,000 for misconduct.
Barton said that the decision effectively forces him to call an early retirement to his career. The footballer accepts the decision but is ‘disappointed at the harshness of the sanction’.
“I accept that I broke the rules governing professional footballers, but I do feel the penalty is heavier than it might be for other less controversial players. I have fought addiction to gambling and provided the FA with a medical report about my problem. I’m disappointed it wasn’t taken into proper consideration.”
Barton further states that none of the wagers placed were influenced or had any attachment/connection to match fixing of football. Barton would publish the thirty ‘most pertinent bets’ as determined by the FA – with five bets involving matches he actually played in.
He added in a searching statement: “A ban of 18 months is longer than several bans handed to players who played in matches where they bet for their team to lose and – unlike me – were found to have had an ability to influence the games. The only players to be banned for 12 months or longer bet against their own teams and played in the matches in which they placed those bets. Players who did not play in the matches they placed the bets in have never been banned for longer than 6 months. I feel the ban is excessive in this context.
“Throughout my career I am someone who has made mistakes and owned up to those mistakes and tried to learn from them. I intend to do that here. I accept that this is one more mess I got into because of my own behaviour. This episode has brought home to me that just as I had to face up to the need to get help to deal with alcohol abuse, and with anger, so now I need to get help for my issues with gambling, and I will do so.”
Football integrity will be discussed at next week’s Betting on Football Conference – 3-5 May at Stamford Bridge – with one session entitled Keeping it clean – preventing match fixing. Pick up your tickets here.