Rangers midfielder Joey Barton has been charged by the Scottish FA for betting on as many as 44 matches this season.
Barton, a long-time journeyman in English football who moved to Scotland after burning one too many bridges, is said to have placed bets on games between July 1st and September 15th. The charges come after an investigation launched last month into whether he broke the SFA’s Disciplinary Rule 31.
The investigation began after officials learned Barton placed a bet on Barcelona beating Celtic in a blowout win in the Champions League last month. (Which, incidentally, is exactly what happened.) The added charges suggest that the investigation uncovered something of a pattern.
Barton has until October 12th to respond to the charges. The disciplinary hearing will be held on October 27th.
Meanwhile, Barton is still serving a suspension at Rangers. Following their heavy loss to Celtic in the first league meeting of the Old Firm in several years, Barton instigated a fight with several teammates during a training session. Immediately following the altercation, manager Mark Warburton told him to stay home until further notice.
A few days later, Barton released a statement apologizing for his actions, but then posted a tweet (which he later deleted) saying: “Apologising doesn’t always mean that you’re wrong and the other person is right. It means you value your relationship more than your ego.” The next day he gave a radio interview in which he criticized Warburton for his handling of the situation.
After that fiasco, the club suspended Barton for three weeks for his conduct and told him not to speak to the media anymore.
In theory, Barton is supposed to return to training on Monday. But between the betting charges and his recent misconduct, it’s not unreasonable to think that this might be the end of the line for him at Rangers. When the SFA has dealt with player betting in the past, they’ve tended to hand down suspensions of 3-6 matches. It’s not inconceivable that they could throw the book at Barton, and afterward the club would just have him train with the U21s until the January transfer window opened up. Surely, some other club somewhere in the world would be desperate enough to take a chance on him.
Failing that, maybe it would be time for Barton to consider a career change. Like underground street fighting. Or internet trolling (since that’s a job now, apparently). Or writing hot sports takes. Anything other than health policy would probably be fine.