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Joey Barton wants changes after 18-month gambling ban

 

By Matt Slater

Joey Barton has called on football to reconsider its links with the gambling industry after the Football Association banned him for 18 months for breaking their betting rules.

The governing body imposed the sanction because he placed 1,260 bets on matches between March 2006 and May 2013. He was also fined £30,000.

At 34, the Burnley midfielder believes the ban will effectively end his career and has said he will appeal against its length.

But it is the questions Barton raises about football and gambling which will provoke the most debate, as many will sympathise with the points raised in an almost 1,500-word statement on his website.

"I think if the FA are truly serious about tackling the culture of gambling in football, they need to look at their own dependence on the gambling companies, their role in football and in sports broadcasting, rather than just blaming the players who place a bet," he wrote.

The former Manchester City, Newcastle and Rangers man continued: "Surely they need to accept there is a huge clash between their rules and the culture that surrounds the modern game, where anyone who watches football on TV or in the stadia is bombarded by marketing, advertising and sponsorship by betting companies.

"This is not an easy environment in which to try to stop gambling, or to encourage people within the sport that it is wrong.

"If the FA are serious about tackling gambling I urge them to reconsider their own dependence on the gambling industry. I say that knowing that every time I pull on my team's shirt, I am advertising a betting company."

Burnley are sponsored by Dafabet, making them one of 10 Premier League clubs who advertise gambling firms on their shirts. The FA tightened the rules on betting in 2014 to stop players in England's top eight divisions betting on any football activity.

Barton's statement lists the bets the FA flagged up as most problematic, as they involved his club, although he was only playing in five of these games. He concludes by noting players who bet against their teams but did not play have never been banned for longer than six months.

Crystal Palace winger Andros Townsend was given a four-month ban in 2013 while at Tottenham but three months were suspended. Bournemouth's Dan Gosling was fined £30,000 a year later at Newcastle. But last season, non-league manager Nick Bunyard was given a three-year ban for betting against two teams he managed.

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