Joey Barton left in limbo as Rangers impose a ban
Joey Barton's future at Rangers remains in doubt after being suspended by the club for three weeks following a training ground row.
There is a feeling in Glasgow that the midfielder may never play for Rangers again after the Ibrox outfit threw the ball firmly into his court on the back of a meeting yesterday morning with manager Mark Warburton and board members.
The 34-year-old had been banished for most of last week following a heated argument involving team-mate Andy Halliday in the wake of Rangers' 5-1 defeat to Celtic. He missed Saturday's 0-0 draw against Ross County as a result.
Barton was not best pleased with that and how he reacts to this latest punishment is likely to determine if he will stay at Ibrox.
In a statement, Rangers said that "time and space is required for both the club and the player to assess all that has happened" adding that no further comment will be made on the issue, but with Barton's autobiography due to be published this week, many in the game are questioning if he can stay quiet on the matter.
If Barton breaks ranks, as he was deemed to have done last week on TalkSPORT, after the original ban, that could be the final straw for a frustrated Warburton and Rangers.
When Barton was asked as he left Ibrox yesterday if he was still a Rangers player, he said: "I think so."
The club statement 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."
After news of Barton originally being banished by the club became public last week, the player issued a statement on Twitter on Thursday apologising for his comments. Then came an unsanctioned interview with TalkSPORT the next day when he claimed he had nothing to apologise for.
As part of his three-week suspension, Barton, who signed a two-year deal when he joined Rangers from Burnley in May, will miss tonight's Betfred Cup quarter-final against Queen of the South, plus league games against Aberdeen and Partick.
At his pre-match press conference yesterday, Warburton refused to be drawn into a discussion, stating: "It's not for me to make any further comment other than what has been released by the club this morning.
"That's all I'm going to say. I'm sure you can understand that from my position and the position of the club. The statement has gone out and no further comment will be made from the club."
He also declined to confirm whether Barton had been placed on paid leave, adding: "You can imagine that such details never come out and are never mentioned by me."
Warburton insisted though that he will continue to have post-match debriefs with his men, stressing that players must not overstep the mark.
"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. Do it in the right manner or else they'll get a flea in their ear," he said.
"It's about being respectful with the way we deal with each other. I have no problem with (players expressing opinions) at all. It's how you deliver the message which will always be key to myself and my staff."