Sacking Barton may prove too costly


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The Independent Online

Queen's Park Rangers want to dismiss Joey Barton, whom they expect to be banned for up to 12 games following his conduct at Manchester City on Sunday, though the lucrative terms of his long-term contract will make the cost of doing so a staggering £12.5m.

The Rangers manager, Mark Hughes, who is understood to have found Barton just as difficult to work with as did his predecessor, Neil Warnock, may have to soldier on with Barton on the books, despite some of the midfielder's team-mates finding his presence destabilising. Barton was signed last summer in a deal which commands a wage of £80,000 a week and which has three years left to run.

Hughes must decide whether to push for Barton's sale, though that may remove a large slice of the budget available for the manager to make good on his promise that Rangers will not flirt with relegation while he is in charge.

Barton, right, was yesterday charged with two counts of violent conduct by the Football Association, one for kneeing Sergio Aguero, one for trying to butt Vincent Kompany which will carry bans of their own. He will have an automatic three-game ban for the dismissal plus he receives an extra one-match ban, because it is his second red card of the season. As such, the club are resigned to him receiving the Premier League's first 10-game ban, at the very least. The FA could include his failure to leave the field of play when it tots up his offences and increase the ban. Also, if he is given a retrospective "third red" that would trigger an additional two-game ban.

Barton's use of Twitter is not likely to land him in further trouble, though it is five months since he was warned about predicting results through it. After the BBC's Alan Shearer and Gary Lineker criticised his behaviour at the Etihad Stadium, Barton made a series of posts which concluded with him referring to Shearer as a "s*** pundit/ manager..." and adding "I really don't like that p***k, in fact I honestly despise him..."

The QPR chairman, Tony Fernandes, did not rule out Barton having a future at Loftus Road. "There are experienced people who will come back to me and we'll review the whole situation," he said.