Rangers finally pulled the plug on Joey Barton’s ill-fated stint at Ibrox yesterday, announcing that his contract had been terminated after just eight first-team appearances and a torrent of bad publicity.
The controversial midfielder has not featured for the Ibrox side since being banished from the club following a furious bust-up with manager Mark Warburton in the wake of September’s humiliating 5-1 defeat by Celtic.
Rangers said in a statement: “Rangers and Joey Barton have agreed to terminate his contract with immediate effect. Neither Rangers nor Joey Barton will comment further.”
True to form, Barton immediately disregarded his former club’s wishes and took to Twitter to thank the Rangers fans.
“I’d like to thank the supporters of Rangers for their incredible support during my time at the club,” he posted. “Wish you all the best for the future.”
Barton’s representatives met with Rangers officials on Wednesday in a bid to bring the eight-week stalemate to an end, with a severance deal eventually agreed.
The club were desperate to offload the £20,000-a-week summer signing after watching his Ibrox switch turn sour.
The 34-year-old former Manchester City, Newcastle and QPR player has not been seen in a Rangers kit since the defeat at Parkhead on 10
It is believed Warburton gathered his shell-shocked squad together two days later for a training-ground post-mortem, but it soon turned ugly as Barton launched into an explosive rant that saw him trade insults with both the manager and team-mate Andy Halliday.
The Rangers manager was left furious when Barton refused to apologise for questioning his methods – specifically his acid-tongued criticism of Rangers’ defensive set-up – in front of the first team.
Warburton decided a period of calm was required and told the former England international to stay away from the club’s Auchenhowie training ground for a week. But Barton stoked Warburton’s fury further when he gave an unauthorised radio interview questioning his manager’s handling of the initial fall-out.
His suspension was eventually strung out for eight weeks as Rangers chiefs examined whether they had grounds to sack him.
The former Marseille midfielder also fell foul of the Scottish Football Association’s strict betting rules. He faces a Hampden hearing a week on Thursday, but is only expected to receive a moderate
When it became apparent to Ibrox bosses that dismissal was not an option, though, Barton was allowed to return to training last Thursday.
But it was made clear he would not be rejoining Warburton’s group as he was instead ordered to train with the club’s under-20 team. Areas
such as the training ground gym were even ruled off-limits when the rest of the first team were present.
The soap opera did not stop there, though. On Tuesday it emerged Barton’s return had lasted just one day before he was signed off with stress.
That was the final straw for the troubled Ibrox outfit, who are already 11 points behind Celtic just 12 games into the season, and Dave King’s board have now finally agreed to part ways with their controversial marquee signing.
Barton is understood to be “devastated” that his Ibrox move has turned into such an unmitigated disaster.
He turned down a £35,000-a-week offer at Burnley, where he had been named the club’s player of the year after their triumphant Championship campaign last term, in order to seal his switch to Glasgow on a two-year contract.
Never shy to give his opinion, Barton claimed he would prove himself to be the best player in Scotland, while also insisting he would dominate Celtic skipper Scott Brown when the two went head-to-head. But he never came close to delivering on those promises in the handful of appearances he made for Warburton’s team.
He looked short of fitness after a rushed pre-season and was left chasing shadows as a Brown-inspired Celtic up ran amok in the first Old Firm
derby of the season.
Despite failing to perform in Scotland, however, it is thought that Barton intends to kickstart his career as soon as the January transfer window opens and a return to Burnley appears to be his most likely move.