London (AFP) – Joey Barton’s future with Rangers was thrown into doubt after the Scottish giants suspended him for three weeks on Monday following a training-ground bust-up.
Barton, who was told to stay away from the Glasgow club for most of last week, met at Rangers’ Ibrox ground with manager Mark Warburton and board members.
The club then issued a statement saying: “Joey Barton has today been suspended by the club and will not return to Ibrox or Auchenhowie for a period of three weeks.
“The manager, Mark Warburton, and club believe that time and space is required for both the club and the player to assess all that has happened.
“Neither party will make any further statement or comment on this issue.”
English midfielder Barton was less certain about his position at Rangers after he came out of the talks.
After being asked if he was still a Rangers player, Barton told Sky Sports: “I think so.”
Barton, 34, was told to stay away from the club for several days to “re-evaluate the way I’m thinking” after a fierce row with team-mate Andy Halliday following Rangers’ 5-1 defeat by arch Glasgow rivals Celtic, the reigning Scottish champions.
Barton missed Rangers’ goalless draw at home to Ross County on Saturday.
Warburton, Rangers’ English manager, refused to discuss former Newcastle United and Manchester City player Barton’s situation after the game, saying it was an “internal matter”.
But by then Barton had already gone public with his version of events at Rangers’ training ground last Tuesday during a live interview on London-based radio station talkSPORT on Friday
Barton insisted he was “as committed to Glasgow Rangers as the day I signed”, but also hinted at criticism of the way Warburton had handled the situation.
“We’re asked for an opinion and I’m someone who gives an opinion,” Barton said Friday. “Two passionate Rangers players have then shared opinions on how we get better as a team and what’s going wrong for us. It’s nothing more and nothing less than that.”
Barton, who signed a two-year contract in pre-season, added: “The way it’s been handled is strange. When you look at my history and you’re told to stay away from the club, it does look like something more has happened, and that’s why I’ve decided to get on the radio and speak, because it’s wrong.”
Barton’s suspension will see him miss the Scottish League Cup quarter-final against Queen of the South on Tuesday, as well as Scottish Premiership games against Aberdeen and Partick Thistle.
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