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ROBBIE SAVAGE: Barton has rightly been punished for breaking gambling rules – but 18-month ban is excessive

Date Posted,April 27, 2017

Joey Barton’s 18-month ban for breaking the FA’s rules on gambling is excessive – because it is out of proportion with punishments for other high-profile misdemeanours in football.

I’m not saying Barton should get away scot-free after placing 1,260 bets on matches over a 10-year period.

Some of those wagers were on his own team to lose games, which is clearly not acceptable, although he was not playing in those matches and he was unable to influence events on the pitch.

So, yes, he had to face the music. No arguments on that score.

But is Barton’s addiction to gambling really worth an 18-month ban when nobody has been harmed, and he has not made a financial profit from his bets?

Let’s put some cards on the table here because it is important to put my comments in context.

Barton may have kicked his last ball as a professional (Photo: Jan Kruger)
The former Manchester City man placed bets on his own side to lose (Photo: PA)

I like Joey. I played golf with him at the BMW pro-am at Wentworth last year and I found him to be enlightened, engaging company. And a pretty handy golfer, by the way.

As both an ex-professional footballer and a current ambassador for a major high street bookmaker, I am aware that I have a foot in both camps. I am proud to be patron of William Hill’s charity.

And I am well aware that 10 Premier League clubs carry the logos of bookmakers or online gambling sponsors on their shirts, so the link between football and the betting industry is not a secret pact. It is there for everyone to see.

But who were the victims when Barton placed his bets? Who was actually hurt or damaged by them, except Joey himself?

Did his actions bring the game into more disrepute than Luis Suarez biting Branislav Ivanovic, which earned the Liverpool striker a 10-match ban?

Were Barton’s bets a more damaging episode for the game than Eric Cantona’s kung-fu attack on an abusive fan 22 years ago, which earned him a nine-month ban?

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