Controversial footballer Joey Barton was charged by the Scottish Football Association (SFA) with 44 gambling violations yesterday, complicating his already precarious position at Rangers FC.
Branded a serial troublemaker, the midfielder was already serving a three week ban with his club following this purposely vague statement from the club: “Joey Barton has today been suspended by the club and will not return to Ibrox or Auchenhowie for a period of three weeks. The manager, Mark Warburton, and club believe that time and space is required for both the club and the player to assess all that has happened.”
So far the SFA has not given many details about Barton’s alleged gambling activity, but it has been reported that at least one of his bets was against rival club Celtic in their opening Champions League match on 28 September.
If Barton has fallen foul of SFA regulations, he has only himself to blame. PFA Scotland, the players union for professional football in Scotland, makes the rules on players wagering on football abundantly clear on their website: “For avoidance of doubt, players should note that this prohibits betting on ANY football match, at ANY time and in ANY country.”
The extreme ban on gambling is thought to not only prevent any impropriety by players, but even the appearance of impropriety – thought essential for the good reputation of the game.
Whether Barton will make another appearance in a Rangers kit, or any kit for that matter, is now in doubt. Barton has until 12 October to respond to the allegations, with the principle hearing scheduled for 27 October.
There is no word from Barton yet, who has been instructed by his club to stay away from the media during his suspension, but there will be little surprise if he contests the charges vehemently. As the battling midfielder famously said in another recent controversy, “If someone is looking for conflict I won’t shy away from it – ever.”