Stressed Out Joey Barton Delivers A Lethal Blow To Sevco’s January Plans

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Well, I wonder what the Record’s Sevco blogger – who asserted that Joey Barton would be forced into an early departure from Ibrox – makes of today’s news?

Barton was supposed to have returned to training at Sevco last week, but he has resorted to an age old standby for workers who feel they’ve been railroaded by their bosses; he’s signed himself off citing stress, doubtless with the full support of a medical professional.

This is a catastrophe for their club and for their hopes of a quick solution.

Whether you believe Barton is actually stressed out or not is irrelevant here. But don’t be surprised if he’s tweeting from the golf course before long. Actually, that can be a good way of relieving stress so it needn’t even be taken as a sign that actually he’s just peachy-keen and enjoying life, although it has to be said that working on a handicap can actually send some people’s blood pressure through the roof.

I’m a former trade unionist, so I can see where this one is headed.

I reckon he’s setting the club up to sue them, for breach of contract and discriminatory treatment.

Last week, one Sevconite tried to bait me on Twitter by reminding me – as if I needed it – that to claim constructive dismissal one normally has to be in a job for 2 years. This is true, of course, but the key word is “normally.” The law is pretty clear that in certain circumstances you are protected from the minute you sign a contact, and Barton has the same legal rights as the rest of us in that regard. If your boss behaves in a discriminatory fashion you’re as covered as a ten year man. If you’re sanctioned for exercising a statutory right – and being able to speak your mind at a team meeting would definitely qualify – you’re alright.

There are other grounds, and if you can afford good lawyers there are plenty of ways in which you can twist a case to suit your circumstances.

To give you but one example, Warburton himself has under-cut the club’s case with his admission that there was a training ground bust up between players within weeks of the Barton situation. Barton’s legal reps will be fully entitled to ask why the players involved weren’t similarly suspended.

I’ve already pointed out that Kenny Miller was given the kid gloves treatment and selected for games despite being charged with assault in connection with the expanding, potentially deadly, furore from the night of the Celtic Park hiding.

I’ll tell you something else; if Barton claims he told the club he was stressed and feeling emotionally vulnerable, and they sent him away without regard they are already in a world of legal trouble, because as anyone who’s served in a trade union knows full well, if a worker gets into disciplinary trouble and claims it’s as a result of psychological problems a good employer is obliged to treat him with leniency and understanding and to get him help.

Yet even if no legal case is raised against the club, there’s no way Barton will be going anywhere in January. One of the attractions of Sevco was that they were to offer him a 2 year deal. Who now is going to offer him even a six month contract, knowing these circumstances and knowing that the player hasn’t even been training for months?

It will take him a minimum of six weeks just to get fit; there’s a chunk of the season and any contract already gone, before you factor in his temperament, personality and the current circumstances which surround him, media opprobrium and all.

My article earlier was on the law of unintended consequences, and surely Barton’s case is a shining example of it. The club must have thought it would be easy to push this guy to the point where he either did something stupid or quit, but they didn’t think it through; they didn’t consider what it would do to their chances of getting another club to take him. They didn’t consider that he might jump off on the sick, and thwart their efforts to humiliate him.

This is a club that doesn’t seem to consider much of anything.

If Barton is stressed then we can certainly understand why; between the club and the media he’s been made into Public Enemy Number One.

How fitting if he is, in fact, playing the Victim Card.

It’s one right out of the Ibrox deck, after all.

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