Belfast Telegraph

Burnley boss Sean Dyche thinks Joey Barton's 18-month ban is 'harsh'

Burnley boss Sean Dyche has argued the 18-month ban imposed on Joey Barton is "harsh" on the day the Football Association published their reasons for suspending the midfielder following betting breaches.

The FA imposed the punishment on the 34-year-old on Wednesday in relation to Barton making 1,260 bets on matches between March 2006 and May 2016, with a regulatory commission arguing an 18-month ban was "not out of kilter" with previous betting cases and was the "shortest possible sanction" that could have been handed out.

Barton re-signed for the Clarets on a short-term deal in January, when Burnley made financial provisions for the possibility of such a big suspension, and although he will appeal, he accepts his playing career has now likely been brought to an end.

Dyche believes the severity of the punishment for Barton was rough when considering the bans awarded for other offences, such as the nine-month suspension ex-Manchester United striker Eric Cantona was awarded for attacking a fan in 1995.

"He feels it's a bit harsh," Dyche said. "He's disappointed.

"We equally feel it's a bit harsh. I don't know how you balance all these different things that have happened in football.

"One of the most obvious was the legend that is Eric Cantona kung-fu kicking someone - he got a nine-month ban.

"We know the rules, I must make that clear, and he knows that. But the FA made it quite clear there's no intent other than his own personal gambling, his integrity is intact, it's just his own personal situation - you think 18 months seems a long time to me, in lieu of some of the things I've seen in the game.

"The FA, we understand they have a role and we respect their decision, we have to. In the bigger picture of the sport, they're obviously showing strength in these individual decisions.

"I can only assume they're going to move on to cheating, which is at a level that needs to be sorted out: diving, feigning of injury, falling to the floor. It needs to be sorted out.

"I'm sure they'll next move on to the bigger picture and the greater good of the game."

The FA revealed their findings in a 63-page document issued on Thursday which detailed the extent of Barton's charges.

In it they noted Barton gambled £205,172.79 and placed 42 bets in 20 matches involving teams he was part of, featuring in two of those games.

On 15 occasions he backed his side to lose, though he did not play in those games.

The governing body has confirmed they wrote to Barton in 2012 after the player made two Twitter posts which appeared to allude to betting, and that they were alerted to his account with Betfair when the bookmakers emailed the FA informing them they believed he was in breach of betting regulations in September 2016.

Barton has argued the game itself needs to reconsider links with the gambling industry given 10 top-flight clubs, including Burnley themselves, have shirt-sponsorships deals with businesses from that sector.

Asked if that situation was hypocritical given the rules in place against players, Dyche added: "I think it's the reality, whether it's hypocritical or not.

"Football's a massive, massive business now. Many people want to be linked to football for many different reasons, advertising is a big one.

"It's the controlling powers of football, they can decide whether that's relevant, it's not for me to decide that."

Barton's chances of a successful appeal appear to be slim after the commission argued an 18-month ban was the most lenient punishment they could have arrived at.

However, they also noted that Barton had been open, expressed remorse and was willing to assist others with gambling issues and warn players of its perils.

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