So Sevco has made a decision on Joey Barton, and it’s the pitiful fudge so many of us thought that it might be. In short, he’s been brought back to training, but will do so with the youth team. In addition, he’s allegedly been told that he will not be considered for selection for the first team squad.
This is nothing less than an effort to force him to depart the club as quickly as possible, negating their need to pay him off. It’s an attempt by Warburton and his people to find a middle ground, which is quite laughable under the circumstances.
This saga is supposed to end in January, with the player tearing up his contract and going to another club. This looks like sheer fantasy at the current time.
Sevco has had this guy destroyed by its subservient media. They’ve branded Barton a loose-cannon, someone who can’t be trusted even to train with the first team squad. They’ve hinted at issues other than giving the manager a bit of back-chat at a team meeting. They’ve effectively wrecked his playing career by helping to brand him as someone beyond control.
None of this is new to Barton; he’s brought those things on himself over and over again, but this time it’s different, first because he’s not shown any discernable quality whilst in Scotland except for in running his mouth off, where he’s in a class of his own.
That’s a disaster for his future prospects; he’s now forever a guy who failed in the SPL.
Secondly, this series of events drives a wrecking ball through the idea which his PR people and our media spent the pre-season promoting; that of Barton as a reformed character who had learned from past mistakes. With that thoroughly wrecked by the same press machine that helped to build it there’s no way he’ll be inundated with offers.
Thirdly, how does he do better than his current Ibrox salary?
There’s no question that he’s too old now to command big money – even he had the temperament and skills to justify it – so his current deal, over two years, probably represents the best he’s ever likely to get again. If you surmise that these are the last two years of his career you’re asking a team to guarantee him that deal – which, don’t forget, Burnley weren’t willing to – with all this baggage surrounding him.
The Burnley manager has hinted at offering him a safe berth.
That, too, is a non-starter. Oh, Sean Dyche might be willing to give a second chance to a player who’s walked out on them already – I don’t believe he is, by the way; there’s a difference between praising a former player and being willing to take him back – but he’s not the guy responsible for writing the cheques at the club and nobody sane would bet on the Burnley board endorsing such a deal.
And even if they did, why would they offer the same contract as before, far less a better one? Barton – and Sevco – are desperate for an end to this. Every club who’d be interested will know that. Not a one of them will pay top dollar as a result. The offers will all be of the “take it or leave it” variety, and whatever way it gets dressed up Barton will have to live with a loss.
He’ll have to accept less money, and probably only as part of a six month deal.
Sevco might well have to make that up to him. In fact, it’s the least Barton’s people will be shooting for, and that’s going to cost them a quarter million minimum.
On top of that, there is no way in Hell that he’ll agree to a non-disclosure agreement as part of his settlement. They can’t afford to demand one and he’ll know it, so however this ends he’ll be talking upon walking out of Ibrox for the last time and I wouldn’t bet on him having anything nice to say. All the dirty laundry will be aired, everything from the dressing room divisions to the latent bigotry of some of the people who work at the club. It’ll all come out in the most public way possible; my guess would be that at a minimum he will spend a month absolutely trashing Sevco and all in it, to anyone who’ll listen … which will be everyone.
The best thing for everyone concerned here would be for the club to either pay him off or for all involved to kiss and make up. Warburton appears to have made a decision which leaves the player on the fringes; that’s clear, at least. I would be surprised if part of the problem wasn’t that a number of people in the dressing room are dead set against the idea, which means that Warburton himself might have a limited say in the matter.
Whatever the circumstances, whatever the outcome, the club has treated the player with at least the same level of disrespect as he allegedly showed the manager.
The humiliation is spread evenly here and no-one involved has historically reacted well to that. So no matter what the media might be trying to feed us here about the possibility of everyone simply walking away from this mess in January my money is on it being nowhere near that simple, or civilised.
No, this one is going to end ugly, as we all knew it would. But none of us expected this, shambles piled on shambles without the remotest contribution from Barton on the park.
How fitting it all is, how appropriate to player and club.
Jelly and ice cream, anyone?