'Betting ban effectively forces me into early retirement,' says Barton

Burnley midfielder Joey Barton says he has been effectively forced into an early retirement after being banned for 18 months by the Football Association (FA) over betting offences.

The 34-year-old, who was also fined £30,000, is alleged by the FA to have made 1,260 bets over a 10-year period between March 2006 and May 2016.

Barton hit with 18-month ban from football

Barton, who confirmed his intention to appeal against the length of his suspension, accepts that be broke FA rules, but claims the governing body's sanction is too harsh and that it did not take into account his gambling addiction, for which he provided a medical report.

"I am very disappointed at the harshness of the sanction. The decision effectively forces me into an early retirement from playing football," Barton said via a statement on his official website. 

HD Joey Barton Burnley

"To be clear from the outset here this is not match fixing and at no point in any of this is my integrity in question.

"I accept that I broke the rules governing professional footballers, but I do feel the penalty is heavier than it might be for other less controversial players. 

"I have fought addiction to gambling and provided the FA with a medical report about my problem. I'm disappointed it wasn't taken into proper consideration. 

"I think if the FA is truly serious about tackling the culture of gambling in football, it needs to look at its own dependence on the gambling companies, their role in football and in sports broadcasting, rather than just blaming the players who place a bet.

"That all means this is not an easy environment in which to try to stop gambling, or even to encourage people within the sport that betting is wrong. It is like asking a recovering alcoholic to spend all his time in a pub or a brewery."

Barton also admitted to making bets between 2004 and 2011 against his own teams to lose, but said that on those occasions he was not in the matchday squad and could not influence the game.

He added: "In the few occasions where I placed a bet on my own team to lose, I was not involved in the matchday squad for any of those games. 

"I did not play. I was not even on the bench. I had no more ability to influence the outcome than had I been betting on darts, snooker, or a cricket match in the West Indies. 

"I should add that on some of those occasions, my placing of the bet on my own team to lose was an expression of my anger and frustration at not being picked or being unable to play. I understand people will think that is childish and selfish and I cannot disagree with that.

"One thing I can state with absolute certainty - I have never placed a bet against my own team when in a position to influence the game, and I am pleased that in all of the interviews with the FA, and at the hearing, my integrity on that point has never been in question."

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