Joey Barton "effectively forced into early retirement" following 18 month ban for gambling

The controversial story of Joey Barton and his football playing career could be coming to an abrupt end after he was dealt an 18-month ban for gambling.

The news is a bitter blow for Burnley who have been dragged into the Premier League scrap for survival, whilst 34-year old Barton has hinted this could be the end of his career.

Suspended "with immediate effect"

A statement from the Football Association read: "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 description added: "It was alleged that between 26 March, 2006 and 13 May, 2016, he placed 1,260 bets on the result, progress, conduct or any other aspect of, or occurrence in, football matches or competitions in breach of FA Rule E8".

Barton announced that he plans to appeal the decision but a negative outcome could "effectively force me (Barton) into retirement".

"I do feel the penalty is heavier than it might be for less controversial players"

The central midfielder saw his contract with Rangers terminated in November before joining Burnley six weeks later with the gambling offences pending investigation.

In February he accepted a charge relating to 1,260 bets over a ten year period but the ban comes as a shock to Barton and he feels that he has been harshly treated.

The controversial figure stated: "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".

Barton also suggested the Football Association has a lot to answer for if they are to stop a gambling culture within football.

"If the FA is truly serious about tackling the culture of gambling in football, it needs to look at its own dependence on the gambling companies, their role in football and in sports broadcasting, rather than just blaming the players who place a bet," added the midfielder.

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