Joey Barton will return to Newcastle United this week with only a final warning, and it looks like he will not even have to take a previously threatened pay cut.
Joey Barton – are Newcastle ready to keep him?
Joey seems likely to retain his Â£65K a week wages.
The midfielder was released yesterday from Strangeways prison in Manchester after serving just less than half of a six-month sentence for assault.
It seems to us that Kevin Keegan has had his way with Barton at the club, and although there will be strict new rules for Barton, and he will be forced to get concentrated therapy for his anger tendencies, that seems to be about it.
It did seem that Newcastle owner Mike Ashley was determined to punish the player a month or so ago, and had told his agent, Willie McKay, that he would either have to accept a major wage cut or be sacked.
However, both the player and his agent seemed to be even insulted by that suggestion and duly refused it. That was bizarre to say the least, because any other normal employee would have been out on their ear months ago, if they had been convicted and sent to jail.
Since then we’re not sure what has happened with the situation.
Newcastle did have some hopes they could continue to hold his registration in the event of his dismissal, and then be able to get some compensation from any club employing him, but that possibility appears to have gone.
Lawyers have apparently made it clear to the Tyneside club, the only possibility of sacking the player and still getting back some of the Â£5.8M Newcastle paid Manchester City last summer, was by selling him abroad.
The Newcastle’s owner will also have not have been overjoyed by manager Kevin Keegan’s stance on Barton in Sunday’s Radio 5 interview, where he said he would give Barton another chance.
Ashley probably accepts that some rehabilitation followed by a possible sale of the midfielder, now looks the best way of recovering the club’s investment on him, which now of course looks like a deal that should never have been made by then manager Sam Allardyce.
Gordon Taylor, of the Professional Footballers’ Association, is optimistic that Newcastle can rehabilitate the midfielder.
“Hopefully Kevin can work his oracle with Joey and get his life back on track, both as a human being and a footballer. Along with the Sporting Chance clinic we’ve tried to help Joey, but you need to see some return.”
“It’s not been good but the lad does have ability and you keep hoping he can put it behind him and move on. Whether that will happen, I don’t know.”
But one thing that Mike Ashley has to learn in this new business of owning a famous football team, is that he must communicate more with the fans.
We haven’t heard a squeak from the club on lots of things this summer, including what they will do about Joey, so it’s hardly a surprise that all kinds of possibilities are making their rounds in the gossip press, on what will happen to the player.
It’s not an easy thing for Newcastle United to do – but they have to get off the fence and tell us, their fans, and the public,Â what they plan to do with Joey Barton.
That’s some courage that’s needed from the club – right now.