Newcastle confirm jailbird Joey to stay at club

July 29, 2008

Controversial midfielder Joey Barton is to get the chance to rebuild his career at St James' Park following his release from prison, Newcastle United confirmed on Tuesday.

Magpies manager Kevin Keegan has consistently outlined his intentions to support the player upon his return to the club - a stance which United chose to formalise with a statement on their official website.

Barton was on Monday released from prison in Manchester after serving 74 days of a six month sentence.

A brief message on the clubs website said: 'Newcastle United officials can confirm they have met with Joey Barton today, following which it has been agreed by everyone involved that Joey will remain with the club.

'The club will not be making any further comment at this time.'

The 25-year-old one-cap England international was jailed for assault and affray after an incident in Liverpool city centre in December.

He was also given a four-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, after admitting assault occasioning actual bodily harm on former Manchester City team-mate Ousmane Dabo during a training session last year.

There were suggestions that Newcastle would part ways with the former City skipper, but he now has the chance to get his career back on track.

Keegan, who has enjoyed plenty of drama since his shock return to Newcastle last season, had been clear in his support for Barton - who was signed by Sam Allardyce for about £5.8million a year ago - and will be pleased that the club's board share his views.

The former England manager had told the BBC on Sunday: 'He's been punished for what he did wrong and the world is littered with people who have deserved a second chance, got it and taken it with both hands.

'There are a lot of things he has to put right with people but I think he can do that.

'It's up to Joey now and he's got to win a lot of people over.'

Barton now faces some intensive training as he bids to catch up with his team-mates in terms of missed coaching sessions, while Keegan must find a way of harnessing the talents of a player whose ability has too often been overshadowed by off-field problems.

Meanwhile, Newcastle target Fabricio Coloccini could walk out on Deportivo La Coruna if they refuse to allow him to complete a switch to St James' Park.

Reports suggest Coloccini has already agreed personal terms with United, who are understood to have met the Spanish club's original asking price of about £9.5million.

But Depor have now said they want over £1million more for the Argentina international, leading Coloccini's agent Marcelo Lombilla to warn he could invoke FIFA's Article 17 and walk out on the club.