London (AFP) – Burnley midfielder Joey Barton said he had effectively been forced into “early retirement” after being banned for 18 months over betting offences by England’s Football Association on Wednesday.
Barton, 34, admitted a charge relating to 1,260 bets he placed on football matches over a 10-year period between 2006 and 2016.
But he blamed his addiction to gambling and said he would appeal against the length of the ban.
“I am very disappointed at the harshness of the sanction,” Barton said in a lengthy 1,500-word statement on his personal website.
“The decision effectively forces me into an early retirement from playing football. 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.”
In a statement, the FA said: “Joey Barton has been suspended from football and all football activity for 18 months with immediate effect after he admitted an FA misconduct charge in relation to betting.”
The outspoken Barton, whose former clubs include Manchester City, Newcastle United, Marseille and Rangers, has also been fined £30,000 ($38,490, 35,330 euros) and warned as to his future conduct.