Taylor calls for leniency in Barton case

September 5, 2008

Professional Footballers' Association chief executive Gordon Taylor has urged the Football Association to be lenient with Newcastle midfielder Joey Barton when he appears before a disciplinary panel later today.

Barton is attending the hearing having pleaded guilty to a charge of violent conduct after his training ground attack on former Manchester City team-mate Ousmane Dabo in May 2007.

The 26-year-old was given a suspended sentence - imposed while he was serving time in prison for a Liverpool city centre attack on a teenager - for his assault on Dabo but the FA have taken further action.

Taylor admits Barton has had his fair share of chances but believes the player should be given an incentive to improve his behaviour.

'It is a difficult one when you are trying to get justice right in any sphere of life,' he said. 'He has previous incidents and you are not usually expected to take those into account but you can't ignore those instances.

'It (Barton's attack) is not professional and there is a disciplinary system in place.

'Manchester City took action but sometimes in football it can be triple jeopardy you can be fined by the club, be suspended and then punished by the FA.'

Barton was hoping to call on Kevin Keegan, his manager at Manchester City and Newcastle, to be a character witness but the former England coach's resignation from his job at St James' Park yesterday throws that into doubt.

Taylor expects the FA to throw the book at Barton but hopes there is some room for optimism.

'There is no Kevin Keegan to speak for him so I think we can expect a number of games suspension but hopefully some will be suspended to try to encourage some better behaviour from him,' he told Radio 5 Live.

'They will want to make an example to look to make sure it does not happen again.

'I think most players accept they are seen as role models and not only are they expected to behave in the best manner on and off the pitch but also to contribute to the community.

'That is being taken on board by the vast majority of professionals but such incidents (like Barton's) do get blown up and tarnish the rest of professionals.'

Barton's agent claims the press 'hounded' his client after reports today that he jumped a red light as he drove to meet his probation officer.

Pictures in the Daily Mirror show Newcastle midfielder Barton's Range Rover Sport using bus lanes to pass vehicles on the inside lane in Newcastle city centre.

Willie McKay, Barton's representative, said he was not aware of the details of the incident but questioned the actions of the photographer who took the pictures.

'Why are they following him? It is a disgrace. What would you do if people followed you in a car?' he said. 'What is the guy meant to do? He doesn't know who is in the car, does he?'

The claims come on the day the 26-year-old is due to appear before the Football Association for a hearing after he assaulted former Manchester City team-mate Ousmane Dabo.

The former England star received a four-month suspended sentence for assaulting Dabo and also spent 74 days in jail after being sentenced to six months' imprisonment for assault and affray for a separate incident.

He was jailed for assaulting Jordan Spencer, then aged 16, in the early hours of December 27 last year outside a Liverpool city centre McDonald's.

Mr McKay confirmed Barton would face a personal hearing today but said he hoped his client would soon be able to put the incident behind him.

'I expect a guy that has committed a crime and has done his time now and the Government has set rules and regulations that you do your crime and do your time, after that they want you to be rehabilitated.

'I think if it was Joe Bloggs on the street, he would not even have got that and enough is enough, to tell you the truth,' he said. 'People follow him and hound him in his apartment block. Who do these people think they are to hound people for a story for a newspaper?

'It doesn't happen in America.'

The Daily Mirror claims Barton drove along four bus lanes and past 14 'No Car' signs as he rushed to avoid heavy traffic.

After a 35-minute trip he arrived at the probation services office and emerged 35 minutes later.

Northumbria Police said today officers had not yet seen the original tape of the incident.

Detective Chief Inspector Allan Brown said: 'We are looking into the matter and if any offences have been committed we will investigate.'

Barton's hopes of a successful return to the playing field will be further diminished with the news of the resignation of Newcastle manager Kevin Keegan, who was one of his most outspoken supporters.

Professional Footballers' Association chief executive Gordon Taylor predicted the footballer would fare worse at the FA disciplinary hearing without his former manager's support.

'There is no Kevin Keegan to speak for him so I think we can expect a number of games suspension but hopefully some will be suspended to try to encourage some better behaviour from him,' he told Radio 5 Live.

'They will want to make an example to look to make sure it does not happen again.

'I think most players accept they are seen as role models and not only are they expected to behave in the best manner on and off the pitch but also to contribute to the community.'

Last month it emerged two of Barton's past victims were taking legal action against him.

Solicitors for Jamie Tandy, 23, said he was suing Barton for allegedly wrecking his playing career by stubbing a lit cigar in his face.

Mr Tandy was a trainee with Manchester City at the time when Barton, who was a senior player and emerging star, attacked him during the 2004 Christmas party.

Mr Tandy claims he suffered a 'major psychiatric deterioration'.

Barton has also been served with a claim from Mr Spencer and will next be dealt with on November 7 at Liverpool County Court.

As part of his punishment, Barton was ordered to pay £2,500 compensation to Mr Spencer, whose teeth were smashed in the attack.

But the 17-year-old felt the sum was insufficient and lodged the claim for damages.