Barton admits regret over Rangers move after ban

Date published: Tuesday 20th September 2016 8:49

Joey Barton

Joey Barton admits he would not have moved to Rangers if he had the benefit of hindsight after being hit with a three-week suspension.

The 34-year-old has been disciplined following last week’s training-ground row with boss Mark Warburton and team-mate Andy Halliday over the performance in the 5-1 defeat to Celtic.

The one-time England international was summoned to an early-morning meeting on Monday, with Warburton and board members, where he expected to iron out their differences.

Instead he was informed he should stay away from Ibrox and the Light Blues’ Auchenhowie training base until October 10.

Although Rangers insist they are taking their time to assess the fallout, it now appears Barton’s time in Glasgow could be up after just eight appearances.

And the former Burnley battler has had some regrets over his switch north of the border.

Speaking to several national newspapers, publicising his new book, Barton said: “I needed another challenge, another experience, even though there have been days since then when I’ve thought: ‘Why? Why did I do that?’

“But I’ve got to believe in Rangers even if it’s been much harder than I expected.

“Reflecting on it, would I have made the same decision? Probably not. I’ve even been honest with people about that.

“There is an honesty that I am operating which means some people think I’m critiquing them. But I know that in time it will turn out to be the right decision.

“As tough as it is, adversity brings out the best in you.”

It appears Rangers decided to act after Barton made an unauthorised appearance on TalkSPORT last Friday, where he labelled Warburton’s initial decision to bar him from training for a week “strange”.

But now the punishment has been extended and it remains to be seen what these latest comments mean for his future at Ibrox.

A club statement released earlier on Monday read: “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.

“Neither party will make any further statement or comment on this issue.”

Having already sat out Saturday’s goalless draw with Ross County, Barton will now sit out Tuesday night’s Betfred Cup quarter-final with Queen of the South.

The player, who reportedly earns £20,000 a week after signing a two-year deal in the summer, will also miss crucial Ladbrokes Premiership fixtures with Aberdeen and Partick Thistle on September 25 and October 1.

Warburton refused to discuss the saga as he met the media ahead of the Queens clash but insisted morale in his camp had not been damaged by last week’s in-fighting.

The manager said: “We trained this morning outstandingly well. The team spirit is good.

“Don’t forget we’re trying to bed in a number of new players, so it takes time sometimes.

“Last year it happened very quickly but we had a complete blank canvas. This year we’ve gone to another level, introducing different players of different age-groups, different experiences but we’ve been really happy with the way we’ve been trained.

“We’re getting a lot better. The balance is getting better and I’m delighted so far that we’re making real progress this week.”

Barton admitted he had over-stepped the line with some of his comments as Warburton’s squad carried out a post-mortem debrief on last week’s mauling by Celtic.

Press Association Sport understands, however, that last week’s dispute is not the first time the ex-England international has found himself at loggerheads with his colleagues.

But his boss stressed he will continue seeking opinions from his squad as he looks to regain momentum after a lacklustre start to the season that has seen Gers win just two of their six league fixtures to date.

Warburton said: “The environment we create for the players and the staff is about giving respectful opinion.

“I always want opinion. I’ll never have a problem with a player knocking on my door to talk about a session – but do it in the right manner or else they’ll get a flea in their ear.

“It’s about being respectful with the way we deal with each other. It’s how you deliver the message which will always be key to myself and my staff.”

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