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Why Newcastle Fans Shouldn’t Be Worried About Joey Barton Not Signing New Contract

Sky Sports recently broke news that Joey Barton’s contract offer at Newcastle had been withdrawn by the club and suggested that he would leave the club once his deal expires. The source in question is Barton’s agent, the notorious Willie McKay who spoke to Sky Sports news regarding the situation. On first glance, it may seem to be a worst case scenario for Newcastle United fans, but many may be missing out on the bigger picture here and not realise that this could be (and is most very likely) a clever ploy by the players agent in order to tip the balance in his favour.  In other words, Willie McKay is most likely looking to put pressure on the Newcastle board and get one last big pay day from one of his clients, who is now 28 and playing some of the best football of his career.

Although I may be slightly non-objective being a Newcastle fan, I’ve always been a keen defender of Newcastle’s Number 7. A man that made many mistakes in the past is now open about his problems and making genuine efforts to form himself into a better human being, as can be seen through the way he hasn’t had a drink for more than three years .A player that grew up in some of the roughest parts of Liverpool, Barton does a lot for children from the area in order to make sure that they don’t go down the wrong path; although you’ll rarely hear the press go on about it. Barton’s image created framed by the media often leads him to be under the spotlight when he does the slightest thing within football these days, whereas other footballers who are heralded as heroes of the game receive nowhere near the same treatment. A prime example can be seen in Newcastle’s recent 2-2 with Chelsea, where Frank Lampard made a malicious and cynical tackle from behind on Barton himself, which only got him a yellow card. No outcry from the media or the fans and not even a mention on Match Of The Day later that evening, I guess he holds that old commentary cliché of “not being that sort of player”. I don’t condone what Barton has done in the past and I’m sure he doesn’t either, but I thought I’d just write this little paragraph so hopefully there can be a control on the Barton haters commenting (although there will no doubt be someone who wants to peddle the bandwagon along).

Barton has become a hero at Newcastle. His great performances and key role in midfield has made him loved by the fans and many seem devastated by the news that he won’t be signing a new contract with the club. But Toon fans need not despair, as it is not the end of the world. It is true that there are some genuine and decent football agents out there (believe it or not), but Willie McKay has a little bit of a history that would suggest he isn’t one of those individuals. The name may seem familiar, but McKay has been given constant allegations of corruption within football in the past, and was even arrested in the Portsmouth scandal along with current Tottenham Hotspurs manager Harry Redknapp. McKay was also fined and banned from operating for one transfer window due to his role in Benjani’s sale from Auxerre to Portsmouth and then from Portsmouth to Man City in two consecutive seasons, breaching FA rules by acting as the selling party for a player twice in a row.

It would be easy to attack Newcastle’s board and in particular Mike Ashley at this moment in time, and I’m sure that many Toon fans will. Yet it is under good authority from local North East journalist Lee Ryder that Barton’s representatives have already been offered two lucrative deals that have been turned down. For all the criticism of the Newcastle board, the one thing they have done that gains respect is to not be pushed around by wages demands and prices. Seb Larsson was all set to sign for Newcastle, yet the club rebuked his high wage demands and refused to be pushed over, and this is a welcome change from the Newcastle of old that used to dish out copious amounts of money for “high profile” players. The salary cap was supposed to be £30,000 per week, yet it is more than likely that Newcastle broke this rule in order to keep Barton at the club. He is a key player and in the prime of his career, the player has been the main cog in the Newcastle machine this season and vital to their success. It has been suggested that a stumbling block in the deal may be the length of the contract,  as Newcastle are offering fewer years than Barton is asking for, although whether or not there is any truth in this remains to be seen.

If Newcastle fans need any reminding, Steven Taylor was in a similar situation not too long ago. The player refused to sign a new deal which seemed to be a ploy in order to pressure the club for higher wages. This resulted in Newcastle putting Taylor on the transfer list and making a firm stand on the player. Eventually though, Taylor did sign a new contract with the club and it appears as though Newcastle were not pushed around on the demands. This shows how agents have become one of the main features of modern football and have so much power in the game. McKay has went to Sky Sports in order to put pressure on the board and is trying to whip the fans into a frenzy as he knows that they desire Barton to stay with the club. So shall we blame the Newcastle board for all this? In this instance, I think not. Joey may well leave the club and that would be unfortunate, yet it would be wrong to just give into higher demands and one player does not make a club. Newcastle may decide to cash in on Barton before they risk losing him on a free and it would be such a shame to lose such an influential player, yet the news broke today by Sky Sports and Willie McKay reeks of being a plot by the agent. There is still time for Newcastle to retain their talisman, but fans shouldn’t feel that today is the end of negotiations with Barton.

Follow me on Twitter @Clusks

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  1. Adam

    May 26, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    First off, Rob great article.

    My 2 cents as a Toon fan: I can see both sides here. Newcastle is protecting themselves as a football club (something not done in past- hello Fat Freddy) and Barton wants a contract to see him into his 30’s, presumably his last good contract. Now Barton has said he wants to stay in Newcastle for the rest of his career and if this is to be believed I could see this working out very much like the Steve Taylor contract this season.

    What worries me is I do not trust the Newcastle brass and for just reason. I can very much see them taking the first halfway decent offer for Barton over the Summer and just going with what we have for next season, which would be a mistake imo. This is a huge offseason for the Toon, and this (while maybe just posturing) is not a great first step.

    • DrewPeacock

      May 26, 2011 at 4:57 pm

      The alternative is caving in and allowing the club to be f*cked over by Barton’s Mr 10% or letting him walk away for nowt next summer. I’d take the money now thanks.

  2. James McCartney

    May 26, 2011 at 9:22 am

    Thanks mate, you’ve done a great job writing this. I totally agree 100 %, I think that this is just one big bluff from the agent and I think they may meet in the middle on a deal, or just agree to the original offer. Thanks for giving us all some understanding on this. I am a big fan of Barton as a player, and also I think he has shown maturity and determination to become a “roll model” for kids of today to follow.

  3. Jimmy_Three_Knees

    May 26, 2011 at 9:10 am

    Why is there such a unanimous opinion (within us Geordies) that Barton is some sort of indispensible footballing god now?! Don’t get me wrong, I do think that on his day, he’s clearly been the most quality player in the squad. But that’s only when he’s on form.
    Personally I think for large portions of the season, Joey’s been really inconsistent. At some points his passing has been shocking. He seems to swing between man of the match performances one day then looking like he’s wearing square boots the next.

    Sorry, but I think he’s an emotional guy and it affects his performance too much. Great when he’s feeling inspired, but I really think he’s a lot worse than people make out, when he’s off his game and that happens too often.

    Even IF you completely disagree with that and still think he’s a consistent and amazing player, the guy is 28 with a year left on his current contract. I’ll be honest and say I’d probably rather he stayed after that time, (despite what I’ve already said) but its got to be if he’s on the right contract. He’s at his peek now, and possibly for the next two seasons, but after that, his pace will drop, and he doesn’t have much as it is (especially if he’s going to stay on the right), and there’s a good chance he’d soon become a squad player only.

    We’ll still have a year to find a decent replacement and I think its good footballing wise and shrewd business not to have a key member of the squad; 1- an inconsistent player; 2- that would be on massive wages and; 3- that will soon be on the decline.

    • DrewPeacock

      May 26, 2011 at 4:53 pm

      I agree with every word of this.

    • Rob McCluskey

      May 26, 2011 at 6:04 pm

      I’ve always held the theory this season that when Barton play’s bad, Newcastle play bad. But I think it’s just the same as any central figure at any club. The rest of the players try to go through him as a playmaker. I know he can be inconsistent, but he’s obviously popular with the fans and in the dressing room. I think when things go through you as much, there is a tendency that you can become more frustrated and you’ll obviously not look as good. Barton with some top signings around him (hopefully this summer) shouldn’t be relied on as much. I’m just not a fan of a complete club overhaul, our team under Hughton had a real personality to it and didn’t feel entirely soulless like many of our squads in the past.

      Laurent Robert used to be inconsistent (10 fold more than Barton!), but I still have fond memories of his time at Newcastle. I agree regarding the contract length from the club though, I wish they could just settle on a three year deal.

      • Jimmy_Three_Knees

        May 27, 2011 at 4:30 am

        Cheers for your comments Drew and i think you make a good point Rob, and i do feel slightly bad being critical of Barton when at times he’s carried the team this season. We have a lot to thank him for despite his faults. I know what you mean the team having personality too, and Barton is a key figure in that. I’m just not sure what the compromise is if a player/agent is holding a club to ransom? (Good thorough scouting for players of the right character? I dunno) I think Barton’s agent is well aware of how key he is in the dressing room, and he’s trying to play the media and fans off against Ashely, and i cant see the owner backing down. Generally, i think its a good policy for the club not to be pushed around by players and their agents, much better than Shepard (as Adam points out below), the problem that worries me is a senior player revolt if Barton or Nolan doesn’t sign … and its Nolan that’s really the key figure for me, Barton we can probably live without (as much as i’d rather not), Nolan seems to be the one the binds everyone together, playing or not.

  4. Gorskino10

    May 26, 2011 at 7:42 am

    End of the day Willie is known for this take the Rooney case of his telling Wayne to say you want to leave to get a better deal, which he got.
    I just hope they see he is our best player this season (without Andy) and just ahead of Tiote (cause of all those bookings) he is 28 and in his best years we would be STUPID to not offer him a new contract and let him walk free.
    But then again stupid and our board seem to go hand in hand.
    Good article 🙂

  5. Rodzilla

    May 26, 2011 at 7:07 am

    A decent, unbiased and almost reassuring read Rob (McCluskey), but as Newcastle fans I think we’ve learned to be pessimistic over the signing and selling of our players since the beginning of the Ashley reign. I know agents are the lowest, but the communication at NUFC from board level to fans as always been an issue – breeding a mistrust due to misinformation and false promises.

    Pardew’s post-Carroll “…Mike has assured me all the Andy Carroll money will go back into the squad” speech means absolutely nowt to the fans – we’ve heard it all before.

    As, difficult as it is, keep the faith!

  6. Alan Shearer

    May 26, 2011 at 4:11 am

    Why they should!

    We have always sold our best players and thats why we never win anything


  7. Spooksta

    May 26, 2011 at 3:18 am

    Great article Rob.Don’t know what Joey Barton had got to do for people to accept him. He has turned his life around and has become a decent guy. Some people just need to move on and stop living in the past. Give the guy a chance. He was one of the main reasons that the toon are still in the premiership. I think he has repaid the club for sticking by him and at least he is willing to stay and take a pay cut not like others I can name Carroll Enrique to name two.

  8. Shawn Hill

    May 25, 2011 at 11:05 pm

    Sounds like Joey Barton is a free agent to me, What’s this I hear about Europe imposing a salary cap? If that happens watch the MLS raise the limit or remove caps all together to attract “would be” European first team starters and increase average ticket sales per game sure to result in more expansion teams. I’m thinking Austin, Texas could handle their own team and would be a great supporting city of the beautiful game. A great name would be the Austin Capitals, but who am I to say…I’m just a soccerpreneur driven by passion!

    • R2Dad

      May 26, 2011 at 10:00 am

      The MLS still needs to iron out some of the details–teams still don’t own their player contracts last I remember, and too much expansion will dilute what quality there is (how is Vancouver doing?). I like the idea of having 6 Texas teams to stoke the smack-down derby fires (Waco Wingnuts, anyone?)

  9. somervillain

    May 25, 2011 at 8:25 pm

    I know a lot of City fans want to see Barton fail after what happened to end his time at the club, but I’m not one. I always like to see someone turn over a new leaf, and it seems as though Barton has done that now. He maintained his cool this season despite clearly being targeted by opposing players trying to get him to retaliate, and had a legitimately good season for Newcastle. I wish him all the best with his resurrected career.

  10. Ben Stephenson

    May 25, 2011 at 6:54 pm

    My theory as to why McKay is stating that Barton is going to leave on a free is so that he can take a slice of the signing on fee when Joey signs for a new club from “unattached” status. As you’ve pointed out in your initial article, McKay was fined for acting on behalf of the same player (Benjani) for two consecutive transfers.
    I’m 99% certain that McKay acted on behalf of Barton for his first move from Man City to Newcastle. Therefore, he would be in breach of FA regulations if Newcastle were to sell Barton on. Thus, McKay may be attempting to circumvent the rules by encouraging Barton to run down his contract and leave on a free so that he can continue to act on his behalf when he signs a contract for another club. The motive? A huge signing-on fee cut, Barton is clearly McKay’s most profitable client. Moreover, this is likely to be Barton’s last “big” move.

    It will be very interesting to see how this plays out.

    • Rob McCluskey

      May 25, 2011 at 7:14 pm

      That’s an interesting theory Ben, he would certainly benefit biggest from that, especially due to the fact that he’s in the prime of his career and playing his best football.

  11. sparky

    May 25, 2011 at 6:20 pm

    Do one barton and your out for himself agent
    You should be paying the TOON for us keeping you in a job
    yes youve done well this season but we stuck by you when no one else would

  12. Graham Lishman

    May 25, 2011 at 6:14 pm

    One of the best reports i’ve read in a long time, well done. As for Barton, I don’t think he wants to leave at all and hope he signs on for the best part of his career. If he doesn’t then I wish him all the best as he has been nothing short of fantastic this season – just hope he gets the same level of traetment off the field as he has done here.

  13. toontoon

    May 25, 2011 at 5:19 pm

    Barton is probably the second best english international mid out there right now.

    • AJ Henry

      May 25, 2011 at 5:25 pm

      Yeah just behind kevin Nolan 😉

  14. AJ Henry

    May 25, 2011 at 3:09 pm

    Well well well…barker and Jason. Proberly the same fans that chant his name from the bedroom in your dorm. This is a clear cut ploy by a agent for more money… They are the most greedy worms you can ever imagine. Get with the program and stp being so nieve!!

  15. Man on the Tyne Bridge

    May 25, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    Jason, You are a negative pessamistic waste of space and NUFC does not need people like you.
    JAYMZ, You obviously don,t read very well, as this whole situation stinks of Agent Provocateur. Willy McKay should be rotting in Brixton now instead of plying his filthy trade up and down the country. One can only assume that Joey is tied into a contract with him as I am quite sure that he would rather not have this sort of grief at this stage of his short career.
    All agents should be hung in the marketplace. Bring back Albert Pierpoint.

  16. Barker

    May 25, 2011 at 2:34 pm

    A great way to repay the Club, Board, and supporters.Who have stood up for him, when others pilliored him and would have run a mile.
    He has been paid very well to play and repays us all by sticking uo two fingers. Cheers Joey

  17. Jason

    May 25, 2011 at 2:19 pm

    As soon as he get his new contract don’t be surprised that his bad boy antics will resume. A zebra doesn’t change his stripes, not even in Newcastle’s stripes.

    • elle2

      May 25, 2011 at 10:20 pm


      Two years ago, I was the first to think that we should get rid of Joey.

      But his performances (on and off the pitch—witness his importance in the locker room; esp. after the Leyton Orient debacle) in the last two years make it clear to ANY NUFC supporter how important he is to this team.

      I think your comments make very little sense.

  18. Jaymz

    May 25, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    it’s the board, not the player, he’s already said he’d take a £20,000/week wage cut to stay.

    • Vassilis

      May 25, 2011 at 4:53 pm

      I agree and hope it is correct that it is an agent ploy to get a better deal for his client, so let wait a few days and see what NUFC has to say, before jumping to conclusions.
      Then Barton himself should come up and clear the air one way or another

    • R2Dad

      May 26, 2011 at 12:30 am

      I don’t know about the negotiations, but taking a 20K cut might be in the context of a 5 year deal so the wage numbers themselves don’t offer up the entire story.

  19. Moreno

    May 25, 2011 at 1:13 pm

    Good read mate,
    summed up the whole situation very well I thought.

    There are loads of sensationalist headlines out there from people who need to take a step back and realise that this contract is worth millions and pounds and isn’t something either party are going to rush into.

    Moreno (

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