Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

United Board Next to Pass Judgement; Barton Facing Another 'Trial'

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

United Board Next to Pass Judgement; Barton Facing Another 'Trial'

Article excerpt

Byline: Stuart Rayner

AFTER appearing in front of a judge for the third time this summer, Joey Barton will get the chance to plead his case to Newcastle United's hierarchy as soon as he is released from jail.

Despite reports to the contrary, no decision has been made by the Magpies over Barton's future, nor will it be until the troubled midfielder is released from Walton Prison. That is expected to be in the next three to 10 days, after the 25-year-old was handed a four-month suspended sentence yesterday after admitting assault occasioning actual bodily harm on former Manchester City team-mate Ousmane Dabo.

Barton is currently serving a six-month sentence for a drink-fuelled city centre assault in December and is expected to be released soon with an electronic tag.

It was suggested in some quarters Newcastle had already decided to sack Barton after he this week pleaded guilty to assaulting Dabo during a City training session at the end of the 2006-07 season.

That remains a possibility but it's just one of the options available when Barton discusses his future with senior United figures on his release.

New managing director Derek Llambias is expected to be at the meeting, along with manager Kevin Keegan. The latter's anticipated presence could be good news for Barton. Keegan is one of the England international's few allies, or certainly was last month when he wrote a character reference for his former Manchester City player on his first court appearance of the summer.

Then, Barton admitted assault and affray in Liverpool city centre. And in another trial 10 days later he was found not guilty of criminal damage to a taxi.

His behaviour has put Newcastle in a moral quandary. The club's previous regime invested pounds 5.8m in signing the player last summer, plus around pounds 3m in wages since, and will be loathe to write it off by sacking him. They could retain his registration, entitling them to a fee were he to join another club, but this would be much reduced.

Newcastle's players are due to report back from their summer holidays on Monday and it remains unclear whether the 25-year-old will be able to join them. …

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