Joey Barton admits he may be forced into an early retirement after the Football Association hit him with an 18-month suspension.
The Burnley midfielder accepted a misconduct charge in February over breaches of betting rules, having been accused of placing 1,260 bets on football during the course of 10 years. Barton requested a personal hearing to put forward his case, but the FA announced on Wednesday that they had decided to punish the player with a lengthy ban.
In response to the charge the Turf Moor club revealed the 34-year-old would appeal the decision, which if stands, would take him beyond his 36th birthday. And Barton has announced in his statement that such a lengthy suspension would end his career.
“The decision effectively forces me into an early retirement from playing football,” read the statement. “To be clear from the outset here this is not match fixing and at no point in any of this is my integrity in question. 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 has played 18 times for the Clarets since returning to the Lancashire club earlier this season, having previously enjoyed a loan spell in which he helped them reach the Premier League. He began his career with Manchester City, before moving on to Newcastle United. He has also played for Queens Park Rangers, Marseille on loan, Rangers, and once for England.