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Barton set to return from betting ban as Fleetwood boss

London (AFP) – Controversial midfielder Joey Barton will take over as the manager of English third-tier side Fleetwood Town on June 2 when his suspension for breaking Football Association betting rules expires, it was announced Wednesday. 

It will be the former England international’s first job in management, with the 35-year-old having signed a three-year contract to succeed John Sheridan, who led the club away from relegation after joining on a short-term deal in February.

“I’m very excited by the challenge and the project at Fleetwood Town,” Barton told the website of the club from north-west England.

“It’s a club I’ve known for a long time and a chairman I already have a very good relationship with.

“My first job in management was always going to be a big decision for me and I’m delighted with the opportunity ahead, I’m joining a club with big ambitions. I’m looking forward to getting started on June 2.”

Fleetwood chairman Andy Pilley added: “Joey not only brings a host of experience and profile, but I also feel he has the potential to become one of the best in the new generation of coaches.

“He’s someone I’ve known for a number of years and I’m convinced he’s ready to make the step into management, and that he will be a huge success.”

Even prior to his betting ban, former Manchester City, Newcastle United, QPR, Marseille, Rangers and Burnley midfielder Barton’s chequered career had been beset by controversies, including training ground punch-ups and on-field fights.

In December 2004, he stubbed a lit cigar in the eye of young team-mate Jamie Tandy during Manchester City’s Christmas party. He was fined by the club, while Tandy sued Barton and won £65,000 ($92,000, 75,000 euros) in damages.

Away from football, Barton was jailed for six months in May 2008 after admitting common assault and affray during an incident in Liverpool the previous December. 

And in 2012, while playing for QPR, Barton was sent off for elbowing Carlos Tevez on the final day of the season at Manchester City. He also kneed Sergio Aguero and tried to headbutt Vincent Kompany before leaving the field in an incident that saw him banned for 12 matches.

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