11 Nov Barton a costly mistake
Rangers have been left to count the cost of the Joey Barton saga after finally pulling the plug on the controversial midfielder’s ill-fated Ibrox stint.
Gers boss Mark Warburton had been hoping the experienced former Premier League ace would add give his side a steely edge on their return to Scotland’s top flight.
But his failure to control the notoriously erratic 34-year-old has proved expensive, with the £20,000-a-week he pocketed during his his four-month stay in Glasgow before his two-year deal was ripped up on Thursday effectively money down the drain.
Barton has not featured for the Ibrox side since being banished following a furious bust-up with Warburton in the wake of September’s humiliating 5-1 defeat to Celtic.
The former Manchester City, Newcastle and QPR battler was left out in the cold for eight weeks while the club examined possible grounds to sack him.
But he remained on full pay and collected £160,000 in wages during his suspension.
He returned to training last Thursday after it became apparent to Ibrox bosses that dismissal was not an option.
But he was signed off with stress just a day later after being informed he would have to train with the club’s youth teams.
That finally brought matters to a head earlier this week as a settlement package was thrashed out.
Press Association Sport understands Gers have agreed to pay him up until January 1 when he will be free to find himself a new club. That, though, still equates to another wasted sum of £160,000 for a club still struggling to pay its bills.
The Ibrox club confirmed Barton’s departure in in a statement just before 4pm, saying: “Rangers and Joey Barton have agreed to terminate his contract with immediate effect. Neither Rangers nor Joey Barton will comment further.”
Barton did, however, take to Twitter to thank the fans he played for just eight times.
He posted: “I’d like to thank the supporters of Rangers for their incredible support during my time at the club. Wish you all the best for the future.”
His last appearance in a Rangers kit came during that painful Parkhead pasting back on September 10.
But the real drama exploded two days later as Warburton gathered his squad together for a training-ground post-mortem. Barton launched into an explosive rant while trading insults with both the manager and team-mate Andy Halliday.
The Gers boss was left furious when Barton refused to apologise after blasting his methods – specifically his acid-tongued criticism of Rangers’ defensive set-up – in front of the stunned first-team.
Barton was told to stay away for a week, but he stoked Warburton’s fury further when he gave an unauthorised radio interview questioning his manager’s handling of the fall-out.
As Rangers realised they could not fire Barton – who had also been charged by the Scottish Football Association for an alleged breach of their strict betting rules – they were forced to abide by employment rules and offer him training facilities.
But it was made clear he would not be rejoining Warburton’s group and Barton was instead ordered to train with the club’s under-20 team. Areas like the training ground gym were even ruled off-limits when the rest of the first team were present.
The final straw for the troubled Ibrox outfit, who are already 11 points behind Celtic just 12 games into the season, came last week when Barton informed the club he was not “mentally right to train”.
Dave King’s board have now finally agreed to part ways with their controversial marquee signing.
Barton is understood to be “devastated” that his Ibrox move has turned into such an unmitigated disaster.
He turned down a £35,000-a-week offer at Burnley, where he was named the Claret’s player of the year after their triumphant SkyBet Championship campaign last term, in order to seal his switch to Glasgow.
Never shy to give his opinion, Barton claimed he would prove himself to be the best player in Scotland, while also insisting he would dominate Celtic skipper Scott Brown when the two went head-to-head.
But he never came close to delivering on those promises. He looked short of fitness after a rushed pre-season and was left chasing shadows as a Brown-inspired Hoops line-up ran amok in the first Old Firm derby of the season.
Despite failing to perform in Scotland, however, Press Association Sport understands Barton intends to kick-start his career as soon as the January transfer window opens.
He still believes he can cut it in the Premier League and a return to Burnely appears to be his most likely move.