August 4, 2012 by joshilan14
It is not often that Joey Barton surprises you. From many violent outbursts, both on-and-off the pitch, to his philosophical delights on Twitter; it is hard to expect the unexpected from the one-time England player.
However, he looks likely to move on-loan to Fleetwood Town, a team based in Lancashire that has recently been promoted to League Two is one of the most surprising transfers in the last decade. You could argue that it is the most surprising transfer since Javier Mascherano and Carlos Tevez’ double move to Premiership outfit West Ham United.
The main reason for his drop down from the Premiership to the fourth tier of English football is quite obvious. His elbow, punching, shoving and headbutts might be praised in an unlicensed boxing match; but he decided to show his alter-ego in QPR’s most important match in their history on the final day of last season against old club Manchester City. Not only did this see him heavily criticised by the press, but the FA decided to give him a twelve-match ban for his actions.
A loophole in the system means that Barton’s ban is completed quicker, with games being played more often in the Football League as opposed to the Premiership. If he were to go to Fleetwood, his ban would be completed on October 6th, as opposed to November 17th if he stayed with QPR. This means he could be loaned out for three months and return to QPR. But he is joining the Cod Army on a six-month loan deal, with this being for multiple reasons.
Match fitness is one. The demands of League Two are less rigorous than in the Premiership, allowing Barton the ideal preparations to return to the Premiership. It will also help the notorious “bad-boy” redevelop his love and passion for the game; with lower-league football proving a haven for players who want to show they have something to prove. Rather ironically, it has also been mentioned that a move to Fleetwood would give Barton a break from the spotlight. This is more likely to gain him media attention than to take it away from him.
On a personal level, Fleetwood Town is a club that suits Barton well. He is close friends with a number of players in the Fleetwood squad, most notably former Forest Green Rovers and Wrexham striker Andy Mangan. The player also grew up near Fleetwood, allowing him time to be near his home-town and his family.
Benefits for Fleetwood Town and League Two
Fleetwood Town benefit from the potential arrival of Joey Barton in many ways: club stature is the first, with this raising the profile of the club due to having a player of Premiership quality in their ranks-this will allow them to attract a higher profile of players to the club.
It will obviously increase the quality of the team, with his ability being well above the average League Two player. As Barton stated himself, the younger players will learn stuff from him, which will improve them as a player in the long haul.
A big-name player going to any league raises its profile. Look at China for instance. First it was Nicolas Anelka. Now Didier Drogba, Seydou Keita and Yakubu have joined him there. I am not suggesting for one instance that the fourth tier of English football will become a haven for players nearing the end of their career, but more players could possibly follow suit.
Due to Joey Barton possibly signing for Fleetwood, more attention will be paid on the league. His arrival will see attendances rise due to people wanting to see him play, which could see some club’s get a bigger budget as a result of an added income.
The player himself
Joey Barton had originally agreed to train with Fleetwood Town for a week, with him saying “Fleetwood are a young club going places. Training with them will certainly help me with my short-term fitness and my plan on being as fit as possible during my 12-game ban.”
He then said “It was a pleasure to be out there…Getting much-needed match fitness… is the reason behind coming to Fleetwood” after he played 45 minutes in the Cod Army’s 4-0 win over Kilmarnock.
Twitter (as it always is!) proved its usefulness again when Joey Barton tweeted today “BBC news jumping the gun a bit. I’ve not signed for Fleetwood. Just currently enjoying training there…’
QPR later released a comment saying “QPR can confirm Joey Barton has not signed for Fleetwood Town and the club have had no discussions regarding a loan to the League Two side.”
Whether he signs for Fleetwood Town is remained to be seen. If he does sign, it will not only benefit Fleetwood Town, but it will help both League Two and Joey Barton himself.
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